x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Katinka Hosszu and Chad Le Clos dominate in the pool

Chad Le Clos. AFP
Chad Le Clos. AFP

DUBAI // Katinka Hosszu, the girl with a Gulf-like appetite for gold, continued her phenomenal success in the pool with victories in the 200-metre freestyle and 200m individual medley (IM), as well as claiming medals in three of her other four events, on the opening night of the Fina Swimming World Cup fourth round.

The 24-year-old Hungarian’s demanding schedule so far this season has seen her build a mammoth lead at the top of the championship standings.

The result, though, is that her arrival at this weekend’s meeting at Hamdan Sports Complex was greeted with intimations of exhaustion and dampened expectations.

“I’m not as rested as I was in the first two rounds … do feel a little bit tired,” she said on Wednesday. “I have been training pretty hard in September.”

Yesterday, however, in front of a small but vocal crowd, the cool waters of Dubai’s 25m pool clearly banished thoughts of fatigue as Hosszu showed remarkable resolution to compete in six finals in the space of one hour and 43 minutes – and claim five medals.

Having targeted top-three finishes in each of her events, the Olympian suffered the only blot on her results sheet in her opening event, the 800m freestyle, where she finished fifth.

“I’m very happy with my performances overall,” she said. “I didn’t get a great start in the 800m freestyle, but everything else went well and am especially pleased with the 200m IM.”

Hosszu, holder of the 200m IM world record, was struggling at the midway point in her fifth event of the night, but found reserves of energy to make a late push past Emily Seebohm of Australia to take her second gold of the evening.

“In some ways the busy schedule will kind of help me in future,” she said.

“When I get up there and know I have already competed in four events and some of the other athletes are fresher, it can sometimes be intimidating, but this will definitely help me psychologically.

“To know I can still compete at this level even after four or five events is a great boost.”

While Hosszu is set to compete in another six events today, South Africa’s Chad Le Clos eased himself back into the pool last night, entering the water twice.

The Olympic gold medallist, who finished second behind compatriot Roland Schoeman in the 50m fly, came within 0.4 seconds of breaking his own world record in the 200m event. Le Clos took gold after finishing more than two seconds ahead of Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski, but he was left grinning ruefully as the clock showed his time at 1 minute 49.07 seconds, just three-10ths of a second off the record he set in Eindhoven in August.

“I’m really disappointed to miss out on the record by such a small margin, but it will be good for [World Cup] points,” he said, after extending his lead at the top.

“I got two split times at world-record pace, so I’m happy with that. I’ve just got to keep going at it and eventually I’m get there.”

The 21-year-old Durban native made his breakthrough in Dubai three years ago at the 2010 Short Course Worlds and maintains a special relationship with the emirate’s facility.

“It’s nice to win again in my ‘home’ pool,” he said, before thanking the South African spectators who cheered his every stroke throughout the evening.