JOHANNESBURG - Providing a lesson in persistence, South African swimming’s two mainstays Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh once against produced at the FINA World Championships in Budapest this week.
A model of consistency, Van der Burgh cemented his legendary status by winning his sixth consecutive 50m breaststroke medal, with his bronze marking his 10th in total.
Van der Burgh won his first medal - a bronze in the 50m - 10 years ago in Melbourne, while he has also won four 100m breaststroke gongs at six championships.
“I am super stoked, it is just as good as a gold to me, it has been a decade so it is kind of unique going full circle with the first in 2007 and now 10 years later also getting a bronze,” Van der Burgh said.
“There is nothing I could have done different, I am happy with that swim in the final.
“I’ve achieved everything I wanted to and now heading towards the end of my career it is more about the enjoyment and making swimming worthwhile and making memories.”
British world record-holder Adam Peaty was in a class of his own, touching first in a time of 25.99.
Van der Burgh and Brazil’s Joao Gomes Junior were embroiled in a tussle for second and third, with.
Gomes Junior finishing in 26.52 with Van der Burgh clocking 26.60.
Le Clos in turn made a famous comeback and finally put the bitter disappointments of 2015 and 2016 to bed.
The London 2012 Olympic gold medallist came into the championships with a single-minded mission of reclaiming his 200m butterfly crown.
Le Clos did exactly that when he beat defending champion and local hero Laszlo Cseh to the wall.
The South African sensation played possum in the semi-final, as he had in the 200m freestyle at last year’s Olympics.
He took the race out fast only to ‘die’ in the final half to allow Cseh and fellow Hungarian Tamas Kenderesi to pass him.
In the final he used the exact same tactic but instead of fading, Le Clos held on to touch first in a time of 1:53.33.
It was the fastest time since he set the continental record at the Rio Olympics Games.
Cseh followed shortly behind him in second place, clocking 1:53.72 with Japan’s Daiya Seto rounding off the podium for third in 1:54.21.
“It is a great honour to be here in the stadium, probably one of the best I have ever competed in, together with my friend Laszlo,” Le Clos told the FINA website
“It was a very emotional event, before, during and after the race. I was pretty nervous before the race. I am very thankful and lucky that I touched home first.”
Le Clos’ bid for his second 100-200m butterfly double gold went up in smoke when he failed to qualify for Saturday’s 100m final.
It was an otherwise forgettable championships from a South African point of view with none of the other swimmers making it into finals.