JOHANNESBURG – Chad le Clos’ history-making chase at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games hit a snag on Friday where he won the 50m butterfly gold medal but missed out on silverware in his other two featured finals.
South Africa’s golden boy was hoping to become the joint-most decorated athlete at the Commonwealth Games as he looked to extend his total tally of medals over two showpieces to 18.
Le Clos still has a theoretical chance of matching record if he chooses to do the 4x200m freestyle relay although he has previously indicated he was unlikely to include it in his repertoire.
The London 2012 Olympic champion and Ryan Coetzee gave the country a gold-bronze on the second day of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the men’s 50m butterfly final on Thursday.
Le Clos was slow out of the blocks in the sprint event but recovered well to hit the wall in a time of 23.37 seconds.
Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago touched in second place with 23.67 with Coetzee rounding off the podium clocking 23.73.
“I am very happy, it couldn’t have gone better, silver or gold but it all means the same to me right now, it is my first international medal and I mean doing it with Chad. It is definitely something I wasn’t expecting. I am very, very proud of it,” said Coetzee. “Before the heats, a medal wasn’t even in the aim, if I get into the final it would be fantastic and if I swim a 24 in the final that is my happy moment which would get my Games off to a good start for the 100m ‘fly.
“I went 23 in the morning and I went ‘oh, okay let’s see if I can get a top five.’”
The wave of euphoria turned into a ripple shortly after Le Clos collected his gold medal with his record-breaking bid hit a snag as he finished seventh in the 200m freestyle with a time of 1:47.20.
Le Clos adopted a different race plan than usual as he took it fast leading the field after the first two laps before fading over the final 100 metres.
“I’m very happy, I’ve never won a 50m fly in the long course, I am very chuffed, but I am a bit disappointed not getting onto the podium in the 200m freestyle and the relay as well,” Le Clos said. “We did our best, but it is what it is. It is a bit disappointing, but it isn’t going to change my week I still want to win my individual races.
“We’ll see tomorrow, I will be more motivated for tomorrow for sure.”
In his final appearance on the night, Le Clos tried in vain to get the 4x100m freestyle relay onto the podium posting the second fastest split in the final with a time of 47.97.
The quartet eventually finished in sixth place with a time of 3:17.27 leaving Le Clos' record-attempt almost in tatters.
Taking confidence from the medal-winning performance of her compatriots, Tatjana Schoenmaker broke Penny Heyns’ South African 50m breaststroke record from 1999.
She knocked 0.01 off the previous record in the final with a time of 30.82 to just miss out on a place on the podium.
“It was actually quite nice race, I was just focusing on myself and not on the race, getting that time is just unbelievable,” Schoenmaker said. “The 200m breaststroke is obviously a bit further than the 50m but hopefully I can swim my best and get to my PB as well.”
London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh will have his first shot at a medal after he qualified for the 100m breaststroke final.
He finished second behind world record-holder Adam Peaty of England, who touched first in an impressive 58.59 with Van der Burgh posting a time of 59.74.
“I am very happy, there is no sense in going out and giving it a big one now…I am looking forward to tomorrow’s final,” Van der Burgh said. “I think the final will be faster for sure, but it is not a world-record pool, so it is all about racing.”
Featuring at her second Games, Erin Gallagher will also be competing for a medal in Saturday’s 50m freestyle final after she clocked 25.03 in her semi-final.
Meanwhile, the Proteas Netball team looked good to open their Games campaign on a high going into the final quarter of their match against Jamaica.
They lead by a meagre one point and only needed to keep the intensity, but the wheels came off in the final 15 minutes with Jamaica racking up the goals to claim a 57-46 victory.
The defeat is a major blow to their medal ambitions and would have to make a serious step-up later in the tournament when they take on the number-one ranked team in the world Australia.
It was a tit-for-tat battle for most of the encounter with the Proteas taking a five-goal lead after the first quarter before the teams drew level at the break.
South Africa managed to get one goal over the tall Jamaicans, but they ran away with it in the final quarter scoring 20 points to eight.
“Congratulations to Jamaica they were certainly able to bring out in that end bit because of their experience, they have eight players playing out on the international arena and that is what I am trying to build with South Africa,” Plummer said.
“The pressure at the time we let ourselves down in that last quarter by just feeding the ball too high.”