Chad le Clos & Sebastien Rosseau
South Africa’s medal momentum continued in the pool at day three of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Saturday with Chad le Clos a runaway gold medallist in the 200m butterfly and fellow South African Sebastien Rosseau claiming bronze.
Le Clos clocked 1:55.07 to improve his Delhi Games record by 1.41 seconds.
Then fellow South African and world record-holder Cameron van der Burgh claimed the silver medal in the 100m breastroke, after being hauled in by England’s Adam Peaty, who set a new Games record of 58.94 seconds.
Le Clos’ gold was Team South Africa’s third of the day, adding to the gold won in the mixed pair visually impaired lawn bowls and Zack Piontek’s gold in the 90kg judo division.
Le Clos’ surge over the final 50m opened a significant lead over Australian rival Grant Irvine, who was 1.27 seconds adrift at the touch.
“It was according to plan,” said Le Clos who with coach Graham Hill had expected that a 1:55 would be required.
“I tried to keep it for the last 50 and power off the wall, but I was a bit nervous because last night [Friday] I went over on my ankle getting off the bus at the village and worried that it might affect me tonight.
“Thanks to the physios it was all okay,” said the Durban-based swimmer, who hopes to go after Michael Phelps’ world record of 1:51.51 next year.
The gold completed a full house for Le Clos, who won silver in the 4x100m relay and bronze in the 50m butterfly on Thursday night.
It also kept him on track to achieve his target of winning seven medals at a Games, one more than Australian Ian Thorpe has achieved.
Rousseau, who turned at 100m in second place, added a second bronze to the 400m individual medley he won on Thursday night with a 1:56.43.
“This is the first Games where I’ve got medals and podiums, so it’s a big positive movement for me,” the American-based Rousseau said.
Van der Burgh gave his all in the 100m breaststroke but had to settle for the silver medal.
Leading from the start, the Olympic champion turned with a significant lead in 27.32 seconds, but England’s Peaty had other ideas and drew level with 25 metres remaining.
It was then a stroke-by-stroke battle to the wall with the 19-year-old Englishman out-touching Van der Burgh by 0.34 seconds.
“It was a lot harder than last night. Tonight (Saturday) I just seized up over the last 25. It’s back to the drawing board,” said Van der Burgh.
“That’s how things go, you can’t always win. When I turned I thought I had it for sure. In the warm-up I was looking better than in the Olympics, but rather (that it happened) this year than any other year.
“It’s motivation to get working hard again and to get back to winning ways,” said Van Der Burgh.
Peaty has rewritten the Games record on each of his outings and is closing on Van der Burgh’s world mark of 58.46 set at the London Olympics.
South Africa bagged their first gold earlier on Saturday when Herman Scholtz and Gyndolene Nel outplayed the host nation 14-10 in the para mixed pairs visually impaired competition.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the pairing, who worked with their directors, Geoff Newcombe and Annatjie van Rooyen.
“Before the game I said, ‘this is what we came to Scotland for. We’re going to play the team and the crowd’,” said Newcombe.
“At 10-10 we thought it was slipping away but we knew we could do it. They (Scholtz and Nel) have big match temperament. It was a fantastic achievement.”