Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


Pieter Coetze edged out in podium race at world swimming champs

Matthew Sates booked his place in the 200m butterfly final.


High-flying teenager Pieter Coetze was brought back down to earth on Tuesday night as he settled for fifth place in the men’s 100m backstroke final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

One of South Africa’s best prospects in the pool, Coetze has rocketed through the ranks in recent years, earning five medals at the World Junior Championships in 2022 and grabbing three medals at the last edition of the Commonwealth Games.

Lining up among the favourites after qualifying fastest from the first round and second quickest from the semi-finals in the Qatari capital, however, he fell short in his attempt to secure his first medal at a global senior championship.

The 19-year-old backstroke specialist touched the wall in 53.51 in the 100m final, just 0.15 shy of a place on the podium.

American swimmer Hunter Armstrong won a hard-fought race in 52.68 to secure gold.

Coetze’s campaign was not over, however, and he was expected to challenge for medals again later in the week. He was set to line up in the 200m heats tomorrow and the 50m heats on Saturday.

Sates in the hunt

Meanwhile, another rising South African star kept his medal hopes alive last night, with 20-year-old Matthew Sates booking his place in the 200m butterfly final.

Sates was seventh overall in the semifinals, clocking 1:55.88 to progress to the medal contest on Wednesday evening.

Earlier, in the morning session, Sates had finished sixth overall in the first-round heats in 1:56.40.

His more experienced compatriot, former world champion Chad le Clos, was in the entry lists but did not line up at the start.

After crashing out in the 50m butterfly semifinals at the weekend, Le Clos had stated his intent to focus on the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle events this week.

Dune Coetzee, the only other South African in action on the third day of competition in the pool, settled for 28th position in the women’s 200m freestyle heats in 2:01.02.

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