Chad le Clos bounced back to top form in the early hours of Saturday morning (SA time), closing out the national swimming team’s campaign in the pool in style as he snatched one of three silver medals in a hard-fought 100m butterfly contest at the Rio Olympics.
The reigning world champion returned to the podium after crashing out in his attempt to defend his 200m butterfly title three days earlier, touching the wall in 51.14 and sharing second place with American legend Michael Phelps and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh. Joseph Schooling of the Philippines won gold in 50.39.
Having bagged silver in the 200m freestyle final in the early stages of the Games, and gold and silver at the previous edition of the showpiece, he became the first South African to earn four medals in the country’s 112-year history at the quadrennial spectacle.
“If you asked me five years ago I would have taken two silvers (from these Games),” said the 24-year-old Le Clos.
“I still have strong aspirations for the future.”
Later in the SA team’s final swimming session of the Games, Brad Tandy finished in a tie for sixth position in 21.79 in the 50m freestyle final, bringing the national swimming team’s campaign to a close with three silvers.
Elsewhere in the late session on day seven of the Games, world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk won his heat in 45.26 seconds to secure his spot in the semifinals on the opening day of track and field, while Luvo Manyonga (8.12m) and Ruswahl Samaai (8.03m) progressed as the third and fourth best qualifiers for the men’s long jump final.
National record holder Carina Horn took second spot in her first-round 100m contest in 11.32 to reach the penultimate round and Alyssa Conley grabbed sixth place in her heat in 11.57, as her campaign came to an end.
Midway through the Games, the SA team had racked up five medals, including four silver and one bronze.