CAPE TOWN - AFTER an exciting campaign to the 200m butterfly final earlier in the week, Chad le Clos was unable to generate the same pace in the 100m on Thursday and was eliminated from the competition in the first round at the Tokyo Olympics.
South Africa’s most decorated Olympian with four medals in total from London 2012 and Rio 2016, the 29-year-old Le Clos was determined to make another statement about his longevity in the sport in the 100m butterfly.
He was a rank outsider in the 200m, but managed to qualify for the final and challenged strongly for a medal in the decider – even leading the field after 150 metres.
Hungarian world record-holder Kristof Milak, though, turned up the heat in the last 50 metres to claim the gold medal, with Le Clos fading out to fifth spot.
Perhaps the emotion of Wednesday’s 200m final took too much out of the South African on Thursday in the 100m, as he never got going. Le Clos was already down in sixth spot after the first 50 metres, with a split of 24.36, and he couldn’t recover by the end of the race to finish in sixth spot in a time of 51.89 seconds.
Bulgaria’s Josif Miladinov took the honours in 51.28, and then it was a nervous wait for Le Clos to see whether he would be placed in the top 16 that advanced to the semi-finals. It was not to be, though, as he ended in 18th.
Fellow South African Matthew Sates also didn’t go any further, as he produced a time of 52.34 in his heat for 32nd place overall.
American favourite and world record-holder Caeleb Dressel underlined his dominance by qualifying as the fastest in the competition with a new Olympic record of 50.39 seconds, with Milak lurking ominously in second position with 50.62.
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