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Sensational Chad lays down his 100m marker

Gary Lemke in London

Chad le Clos continued to impress in his first Olympics with another fearless display in the men’s 100m butterfly heats at London 2012 on Thursday morning. South Africa, if you flattened all the champagne on Tuesday night, go out and get some more.

He took to the blocks in his heat in lane seven, with the Queen classic “We Will Rock You” blaring out of the speakers in front of a crowd that created an atmosphere more in keeping with the evening’s finals programme than the morning heats. Earlier Le Clos had sensibly scratched from the final of the 200m Individual Medley.

He had qualified joint seventh for that race and after discussions with his coach, Graham Hill, the advice was to conserve energy for the 100m butterfly only 36 hours after that unforgettable victory over Michael Phelps in the 200m.

Wearing the distinctive green cap of South Africa he got to the wall in 24.38, in fourth spot, but showing the same hunger and desire that he did in the 200m final, he simply powered through to win in 51.54 seconds. South African records? Just rewrite them all. Soon he will be dealing in world records.

While there were shrewd judges who marked him as a 200m butterfly candidate, and some ticked him off as a 400m IM outsider, not too many were talking about him being a 100m butterfly potential gold medallist. The bookies had him at 50-1 to win, after all. It was the fourth fastest time of the world this year, behind Michael Phelps, Tyler McGill and Milorad Cavic. And, we need to remind, it came in the morning’s heats.

But after the morning’s heats he had gone 0.18 faster than Phelps and some 0.36 quicker than Beijing silver medallist Cavic.

Four years ago in her first Olympics, Wendy Trott missed out on the final in the women’s 800m freestyle by one place, touched out by just three-tenths of a second. Her consolation was that she had swum her personal best and broken the South African and African record in the process.

On Thursday, in the women’s 800m freestyle heats she suffered a similar fate ÔÇô and this time there was no silver lining. The big regret for her though will be the fact that had she replicated her Beijing swim (8min 26.21sec) would have seen her qualify for the 2012 final.

As it is she touched the wall fourth in the first seeded heat at the aquatic centre on Thursday morning in 8:28.98 and because it was the slowest of the three whets packed with the quicker swimmers, that cost her dearly. The pace had been set by the 15-year-old American Katie Ledecky and after setting a world record tempo for 150m she tapped off and came home alone ion 8:23.84.

Trott meanwhile, settled into a rhythm around 64 seconds per hundred metres as the ‘peloton’ of the pool were spread across virtually in a line. However, she came home strongly in the last 100m with a 62.59 second final hundred but ultimately it was too little too late as the final qualifying sport was 1.83 second away. This time there will be no consolation for her, only disappointment.

In┬á the men’s 50m freestyle, Roland Schoeman and Gideon Louw both progressed to the semi-finals with Schoeman, the four-time Olympic veteran and a winner of three career medals, winning his heat from lane one in 21.92, and then leaping out the water to prepare for the matter of the evening’s semi-finals.

It was a strong performance from the 32-year-old as only six swimmers from the heats went under 22 seconds ÔÇô and he qualified fifth fastest overall. Had you given him that time when he woke up this morning he would have surely taken it.

Louw also got through to the business part of the evening with his 22.12 although will have to go under 22 seconds in the semis if he is going to reach the final.


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