JOHANNESBURG - South African swimming legends Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh bagged three gold medals between them at the Doha leg of the FINA Swimming World Cup.
Winning both the 50m and 200m distances, Le Clos proved his dominance in the butterfly events on the opening night of the gala on Wednesday while Van der Burgh topped the podium in the 50m breaststroke.
Le Clos renewed his rivalry with American swimmer Tom Shields in the butterfly events with the two going toe-to-toe in the 200m butterfly.
Shields narrowly edged out the South African in Hong Kong over the weekend but the opening night in Doha belonged to Le Clos in his specialist event.
The duo was embroiled in a close tussle with Shields taking the early lead swimming just inside world-record pace.
At the final turn, Le Clos was still trailing Shields but turned in an impressive sprint over the final 15 metres to touch first in a time of one minute, 49.59 seconds (1:49.59).
Shields finished just behind the South African in a time of 1:49.86 with Japan’s Yuya Yajima finishing third in 1:52.08.
The victory could prove crucial for Le Clos in the race to win cluster #2 with the South African and the American tied on 75 points after the Hong Kong leg.
The South African swimming sensation claimed his 26th consecutive victory in the 50m butterfly event marking the fourth year he has gone undefeated in the event.
It was a close battle over the first length but Le Clos finished strong, racing home in a time of 22.45 secs.
China’s Qibin Zhang finished behind him in second place clocking 22.74 secs with Shields bagging the bronze medal in a time of 23.04 secs.
Le Clos is on the cusp of winning an unprecedented fourth Swimming World Cup series title after he won the first of three clusters.
Van der Burgh opened the evening on a high note by bagging the 50m breaststroke gold medal touching in 25.70 seconds. Russian swimmer Kirill Prigoda pushed Van der Burgh all the way to the wall clocking 25.85 secs for second.