JOHANNESBURG – Chad le Clos won South Africa’s first medal at the World Long-Course Championships in Gwangju, South Korea but there is a new 200m butterfly sheriff in town after Hungary’s Kristof Malik shattered the world record yesterday.
The golden boy of African swimming made a gallant effort in the 200m butterfly final, winning the bronze medal, but Milak produced an out-of-this-world performance to claim his maiden global title. The 19-year-old smashed American Michael Phelps’ record from 2009, hitting the wall in 1:50.73. Becoming the first swimmer to dip below 1:51, Milak announced himself as the next big thing in the butterfly event.
Le Clos threw down the gauntlet over the first 100m, touching first at the first two turns before Milak reeled him in. He chopped 0.78s off Phelps’ record. Japan’s Daiya Seto took second in a time of 1:53.86, with Le Clos clocking 1:54.15 for third place.
“That was a tough race, I tried my best and went out hard over the first 100m, and I felt I could win the race,” Le Clos said. “He was resilient; he was fantastic1:50 is a freestyle time, so fair play to him. He is a young man with a bright future ahead of him.”
Le Clos, who has been battling with a hernia, said he would rise again after conceding his title.
“Nothing changes for me; I will come to hunt him down next year, it is as simple as that. God bless him, he is great. I tried my best, but I got beaten by the better two men by a long way. So I have a lot of work to do but nothing changes, I go back home, start my rehab for my groin next week Monday.
I will come back stronger; I will be very competitive with him next year, I promise that.”
Le Clos will have another chance at a medal in the 100m butterfly where he is expected to go up against another rising star in America’s defending champion Caeleb Dressel.
“I’m excited, the 100m butterfly is going to be good, my 50m was good, so I am looking forward to racing Dressel,” Le Clos said.
During the morning heats the South African mixed 4x100m medley relay team of Tatjana Schoenmaker, Christopher Reid, Ryan Coetzee and Erin Gallagher posted a new African record of 3:49.90 but failed to make it into the final.@ockertde