Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

First medal for SA swimming team as Coetze bags bronze

Chad le Clos and Erin Gallagher progressed to finals in their events.

Pieter Coetze ended South Africa’s medal drought on Friday night, grabbing bronze in the men’s 200m backstroke on day six of competition in the pool at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

The 19-year-old former world junior champion touched the wall in 1:55.99 in the final over four lengths in his specialist stroke, with Spanish swimmer Hugo Gonzalez winning gold in 1:55.30 and Switzerland’s Roman Mityukov taking silver in 1:55.40.

Meanwhile, Erin Gallagher coasted into Saturday evening’s final in the women’s 50m butterfly, taking sixth place overall in the semifinals last night in 25.86 seconds.

Earlier, in Friday’s morning session, Gallagher had been third fastest in the heats, clocking 25.69 and missing her own national record (25.66) by just 0.03.

Le Clos finds form

Experienced campaigner Chad le Clos also kept his medal hopes alive, grabbing fifth spot in the men’s 100m butterfly semifinals.

Le Clos, a two-time world champion in the event, finished in 51.70. He progressed to his first final of the showpiece after struggling to put up a fight in other events earlier in the week.

While the veteran swimmer progressed to Saturday evening’s medal battle, however, 20-year-old Matthew Sates was eliminated in the penultimate round after settling for 10th position in 51.99.

Le Clos had ended in a tie for eighth place in the first-round heats in in 52.04, while Sates was forced into a swim-off after finishing a tie for 16th spot in 52.52.

He went on to win the two-man race against Ireland’s Max McCusker, touching the wall in 51.80 to secure the last available spot in the penultimate round, though the extra energy required might have affected his performance in the semis.

Other results

Hannah Pearse also did well to reach the women’s 200m backstroke semifinals, grabbing 16th spot in 2:13.26 in the heats, but she was 15th in the penultimate round in 2:13.29 and did not find a place in the final.

In other events on Friday, Clayton Jimmie finished 31st in the men’s 50m freestyle heats in 22.33, and while Dune Coetzee was in the entry lists for the 800m freestyle heats, she did not line up at the start.

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