x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Haul of medals and points lead not enough to leave Chad Le Clos satisfied.

Chad Le Clos of South Africa was still upset with himself despite winning medals and boosting his Fina Swimming World Cup lead in Dubai on Friday.  Ali Haider / EPA
Chad Le Clos of South Africa was still upset with himself despite winning medals and boosting his Fina Swimming World Cup lead in Dubai on Friday. Ali Haider / EPA

DUBAI // Two events, two gold medals, job done. Chad Le Clos, the supreme South African, would have been well within his rights to kick back with a smile on Friday after a pair of victories on the final day of the fourth round of the Fina Swimming World Cup at Hamdan Sports Complex.

Instead, such is the Olympic gold medallist’s drive for perfection, he spoke only of “mistakes”. And that he was “disappointed”. And that a portion of his performance had been “really bad”. And that he must “work harder”.

Le Clos, who leads the World Cup standings comfortably at the midway point, was fastest in the 100-metre butterfly and, later, the 200m individual medley.

However, his victory was not as comfortable as he would have liked. In his opening event, he beat Thomas Shields of the United States by just 0.02 seconds, while in the medley he was level with Australia’s Kenneth To until the final turn.

“I came here and wanted to score big points in the 100m fly and managed that,” he said. “But I wanted to get the world record, too, so I’m disappointed I never did it. I made a few mistakes under the water – silly mistakes that I shouldn’t be making.”

Le Clos’s time of 49.19 seconds in the 100m IM was 0.66 off Evgeny Korotyshkin’s 2009 record.

“Also, in the medley, my breaststroke is really bad, so I need to work on that over the next few weeks. Overall, though, over the two days, I’m happy how things went,” said Le Clos, who leaves for the next event in Doha with three golds and a silver from four events.

“Day 1 was probably better for me, even though I obviously got the silver that day. It was very fast times.”

In the 200m IM, Le Clos and To were neck and neck at the final turn, but when they came up for air on the final stretch, the South African blasted off into the distance and eventually won by a margin of more than 1.5 seconds.

“It’s something I always like to practice,” Le Clos said of his colossal push. “It means you always have something in reserve. If you need to press go, you can go. I knew I had to do that, otherwise it was going to be really close, so thankfully I got the turn and got the win.”

The Durban native, 21, has endured a tough year since his Olympic success in London, where he won the 200m butterfly and took silver over 100m. Last night, post-race in the warm-down pool, he could be seen regularly squeezing and slapping his right hamstring – when he was not posing for photographs with young fans or signing autographs.

“It’s a great venue for me,” he said. “A great crowd with lots of South Africans. That’s why I enjoy coming here.”

In the women’s finals, Katinka Hosszu added three more medals to her haul as she extended her lead at the top of the World Cup standings. The Hungarian took gold in the 200m fly and the 400m IM as well as silver in the 100m IM, where she finished 0.1 seconds behind Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson.

It was the 400m freestyle, however, that caught the eye as she finished well back of the pack in last place, more than 16 seconds off the lead and almost nine seconds behind her nearest rival.

“I just psyched myself out,” she said. “I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do it, and then once I was in the water, it was all mental.”

In the last event of the evening, the mixed 4x50m freestyle, Dubai saw its first world record of the weekend as the Japanese team of Shinri Shioura, Sayaka Akase, Kenta Ito and Kanako Watanabe set a time of 1:32.95 to beat the record, set by Russia last week in Moscow, by .06.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae