JOHANNESBURG – Chad le Clos passed one of his biggest tests in recent years as he won an unprecedented fourth consecutive 100m butterfly title at the World Short-Course Swimming Championships in Hangzhou, China yesterday.
The London 2012 Olympic champion labelled it the “biggest race of my short-course career”, beating American Caeleb Dressel in what was expected to be an epic tussle. But Le Clos took the sting out of the contest from the start as he sprinted to an early lead with Dressel following in his wake.
Le Clos held off a strong final 25-metre challenge from Dressel to touch first in a time of 48.50 seconds.
Dressel hit the wall in second place with a time of 48.71secs with China’s Li Zhuhao finishing third with a new Asian record of 49.25s.
“I was up against the best field by far and this was the main event of the whole week and I am very grateful I got the gold as it was a tough race,” Le Clos said.
“I was anxious because I was waiting the whole day for this, the whole week and the past three months because I knew this one could come.
“I really wanted to race Dressel, he is the best short-course yards swimmer and I am the best metres swimmer. After the first night, people thought I was winded and I have always told them that is the biggest mistake they can make because after I have lost I come back much stronger.
“Tonight was important. I needed the win tonight.”
Cameron van der Burgh is due to compete in his pet 50m breaststroke event and could win his first double gold at the global showpiece after his 100m breaststroke victory on Wednesday.
Erin Gallagher finished eighth in the women’s 100m freestyle final yesterday. Brad Tandy marched through to the 50m freestyle final after finishing third in his semi-final.@ockertde