Cameron, Chad lead rush for gold

Van der Burgh pulls off the impossible as Team SA bags nine medals

Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa celebrates victory in the Men's 50m Breaststroke Final on day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Optus Aquatic Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia
Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa celebrates victory in the Men's 50m Breaststroke Final on day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Optus Aquatic Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia
Image: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

On a day when South Africa picked up a staggering nine Commonwealth Games medals in Australia, the country’s swimmers delivered three golds‚ the most sensational being Cameron van der Burgh’s unexpected triumph in the 50m breaststroke. The veteran performed the impossible as he downed indomitable Englishman Adam Peaty to win his third consecutive Games 50m breaststroke crown.

Peaty had not been beaten since Van der Burgh edged him by 0.02sec at the previous Commonwealth showpiece in Glasgow.

Since then the South African has had to play second fiddle to him at two world championships and the 2016 Olympics‚ but yesterday the old warhorse reclaimed his turf as he touched first in 26.58.

Peaty‚ who had swum a 26.49 Games record in the semifinals‚ was second in 26.62.

Chad le Clos‚ who won his third gold medal of Gold Coast in the 100m butterfly‚ had become only the second man in history – the first since 1974 – to win three Games titles in the same event, in the 200m butterfly.

Now Van der Burgh‚ who turns 30 next month‚ has added his name to that list.
“To be able to come through the years and be able to finish on such a high is really special. Adam and I had a really tough rivalry,” Van der Burgh said.

“He obviously had the upper hand the last couple of years so to get on top of the podium and see my flag up there and my national anthem being played is going to be one of the highlights when I look back on my career,” he said.

Cameron Van Der Burgh win Gold Medal for Men's 50m Breaststroke Swimming on the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Optus Aquatic Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia

Tatjana Schoenmaker added the 100m breaststroke crown to her 200m gold‚ clocking 1min 06.41sec to break the last of Penny Heyns’s African marks in an Olympic-sized pool. The usually reserved 20-year-old was emotional. “This 100 was amazing. I didn’t think I would ever medal in the 100.”

And Le Clos took his 16th career Games medal by winning the 100m butterfly in a 50.65 championship record. That podium finish brought him level with Australian Susie O’Neill as the most decorated Games swimmer of all time‚ only two short of the all-time record of 18‚ shared by two shooters.

Dyan Buis and Charl du Toit took silver and bronze in the T38 100m final‚ with Du Toit breaking his world record in the more restrictive T37 class. Christian Sadie took silver in the S7 50m freestyle. The women’s four lawn bowlers battled bravely but had to settle for silver after losing in the final to world champions Australia.

And Caster Semenya will lead SA’s charge for gold today as she competes in a 1 500m final (2.04pm) missing the type of firepower she had faced at the world championships last year. She was the fastest of the semifinals yesterday. “The main thing was to take command of the race‚ see how we can run the splits. I was happy with the splits,” she said.

Swimming ends today.

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