Chad le Clos shocked Michael Phelps to take the gold in the men’s 200m butterfly, but there was disappointment for South African athletes elsewhere. ANT SIMS wraps up Tuesday’s Olympic action.
Chad le Clos bagged South Africa’s second gold of the 2012 Olympics with an absolutely incredible swim in the men’s 200m butterfly on Tuesday. Le Clos had the odds stacked against him from the word go, with American Michael Phelps leading the race for most of the way. Phelps looked in control, with Le Clos trailing behind for most of the race, but the 20-year old managed to snatch the win at the last second and on the final stroke, barring Phelps from becoming the first male swimmer to win the same event at three successive Games.
“It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a little boy. I just wanted to race Phelps in the final and I've beaten him. I can't believe it," said le Clos.
"Phelps is my hero and I love the guy. To beat him, I can't believe it. You don't understand what this means to me. This is the greatest moment of my life."
The South African men's 4 x 200m relay team had a disappointing night out, finishing seventh. United States won the race in a time of 6:59:70, while France took the silver and China walked away with the bronze. The win also means that American Phelps is now the most successful Olympian in the history of the games, winning the 19th medal of his career – a record which he equalised with the silver against Le Clos.
South Africa’s fortunes were mixed in the pool elsewhere, as Gideon Louw missed out on a chance to go for a medal when he failed to qualify for the men's 100m freestyle final. He finished fourth in his semi, but missed out on a final berth by 0.06 seconds. Graeme Moore also missed out on a semi-final chance after he finished seventh in his heat with a time of 49.29 seconds.
The women’s soccer also saw Banyana Banyana pull off a shock result against Japan. After a disappointing Olympic campaign, the ladies found their grit on Tuesday and will head home on a high. The South African women’s soccer team managed to hold world champions Japan to a 0-0 draw. The Japanese were relentless in their attack, but South Africa held its own and refused to surrender, with Portia Modise (who scored a wonder goal in South Africa's first match) having a few more cracks at the goal. Despite the result, Japan qualified for the playoffs, along with Sweden, while South Africa will be heading home after a disappointing Olympic debut.
The women's hockey team continued its struggles and lost 4-1 to New Zealand, after being down 3-0 at the break. This follows a 7-1 thumping by Argentina in the opening match. The team will now play Germany on Thursday, with Australia and the United States to come after that.
“As I said, we played well in the second half, but we just couldn’t get that goal. Even at 3-1 down, I thought we were still in it and could get back to 3-3, but it didn’t happen that way. We need to play for the entire 70 minutes," said coach Giles Bonnet.
“We are the 12th-ranked team at this tournament and have to be realistic. Ideally I would have liked to be in the other group, because we have beaten three of the teams there, but there’s nothing we can do about that. It really is the luck of the draw.”
The men's lightweight fours – Matthew Brittain, Lawrence Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson – qualified for the final, which will take place on 2 August. They qualified after finishing second to the Olympic champions Denmark, and ahead of the world champions, Australia. DM
Photo: South Africa's Chad le Clos celebrates winning the men's 200m butterfly final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre July 31, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Silva