Ho hopes for No3 | SASCOC - SASCOC

Ho hopes for No3

Two-time Midmar Mile champion Chad Ho is confident his extensive experience in the race will work in his favour as he bids for a milestone third successive title in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands this weekend.

“I definitely want to be that first person or that special person,” Ho said. “It’s definitely a goal to aim for this year.

“It will mean a lot to me. I am known as an open water swimmer so it would be kind of right to gain that title. But I’ll take a step at a time and will be grateful for a victory.”

The field is one of the strongest in recent years with a powerful international line-up that includes Federico Colbertaldo, the European 800 metres record holder.

The Italian is part of a seven-man squad from his country, while there are powerful Hungarian and British contingents alongside locals like Jasper Venter and Heerden Herman.

“There are some top overseas swimmers in the race this year, and locally we have guys like Herman,” said Ho.

“All these guys have got the speed. I guess it will come down to how each individual is feeling on the day and who is the freshest.”

Ho will take his place in one of the world’s best known open water swimming events for a 15th successive year when he competes in the men’s 14-30 category on Sunday.

The 21-year-old first swam in the 1.6km race when he was seven years old, in 1998, and has not stopped since, winning the Under-13 category in the early stages of his career.

The Durban-born swimmer finished ninth in the 10km open water race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and while Midmar is significantly shorter in distance, he remained confident of his chances.

“Obviously Beijing was 10km and this is a lot different because it’s more of a sprint,” he said.

“But I have grown in the time since then with a lot more experience behind me and know the course pretty well. I will hopefully use the experience to my advantage.”

On the women’s front, Briton Keri-Anne Payne is searching for an unprecedented seventh title, which would better the record she shares with Natasha Panzera.

The defending champion faces tough competition from the likes of Slovenian Nika Kozamernik and Italy’s Jasmin Agnoletto.

Slovenia is well represented by top swimmers Tsaja Vosel, Ana Marija Kosak and Guzelj Aljaz.

Organisers are expecting a field close to 16 000 competitors in the two-day event.