x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Three gold medals for Le Clos at swimming World Cup in Dubai

UAE's Mubarak Al Besher clocks a national record, but misses out on a podium position in the 50-metre breaststroke.

Mubarak Al Besher, of the UAE, is delighted to have done well ahead of the upcoming GCC Games.
Mubarak Al Besher, of the UAE, is delighted to have done well ahead of the upcoming GCC Games.

The South African Chad le Clos on Friday night expressed his delight after claiming three gold medals at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex.

Le Clos, 19, claimed his first triumph in the 400-metre individual medley, holding back at first before catching the Austrian Dinko Jukic late in the race to finish in 4mins 4.58secs.

His second gold of the night came in the 200m butterfly as he again got the better of Jukic, this time reaching the wall in a time of 1min 52.55secs.

Jukic had to settle for silver one more time, in the 100m individual medley, as Le Clos again got the edge in a time of 53.48secs, just three hundredths of a second ahead of the Austrian.

"Dinko is a great swimmer so I knew it would be a tough race," Le Clos said after his 400m victory. "I just tried to stay with him.

"Luckily, he didn't get too far ahead on the breaststroke and I had enough to come back at the end. I knew what I wanted to do and was glad it all came together."

Other top performers of the night were Jason Dunford of Kenya and the German Marco Koch, who claimed two golds each. Dunford won the 100m freestyle and the 50m butterfly; Koch was first in the 50m and 200m breaststroke, and took a bronze medal in the 400m individual medley.

"That's very good. I'm very happy and impressed with my form because I'm in hard training at the moment and have been working really hard, so to swim half a second off my best is very encouraging for me," Dunford said.

The Emirati Mubarak Al Besher also had a memorable night.

Having broken his own national record in the morning heats, the police officer returned to his record-breaking ways in the evening, just missing out on the medals but setting a national mark of 28.58secs in the 50m breaststroke.

It was a busy night for Al Besher, who also swam in the finals of the 200m breaststroke and 100m individual medley.

"I feel very good about my race. It's a personal record. I'm very happy to break this record and am looking to do even better in the GCC Games," he said after the 50m breaststroke.

The evening's women's events were dominated by China and Japan, who shared five gold medals between them.

Wang Shijia of China was first up in the 200m freestyle, winning in a time of 1min 56.76secs before her compatriot Liu Xiaoyu topped the podium in the 100m breaststroke in 1min 4.79secs. It was then the turn of another Chinese, Wang Junyao (100m butterfly gold in 58.05secs) before Japan's Miyuki Takemura took top honours in the 50m backstroke in a time of 27.12secs.

"I think I did so-so in the race. It wasn't my best time, so it was good to win," Takemura said. "I like Dubai; it's my second time coming here. I haven't won any medals for two years so this is very good."

Her compatriot Izumi Kato was next on the podium for the women's events, taking the 200m individual medley honours in a time of 2mins 9.04secs.

The only women to break the Asian domination were world-record holder Marleen Veldhuis (gold for the Netherlands in the 50m freestyle) and the Ukrainian Daryna Zevina who won the 200m backstroke in 2mins 2.94secs.

"That was nice; it was a good race," Veldhuis said after winning in 24.14secs. "I felt good off the blocks, although coming back was a bit tougher. But that's just the training and I'm happy with my time."

Speaking of her training partner, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who claimed silver in the race, Veldhuis said: "Ranomi and I train together in the same lane for 20 hours a week so of course there is a bit of rivalry. But that makes us both better."

Other men's winners were Masafumi Yamaguchi of Japan (gold in the 100m backstroke in 52.28secs) and Italy's Samuel Pizzetti, who claimed top honours in the 400m freestyle, finishing in 3mins 45.45secs.

The evening's international finals were followed by a children's 25m freestyle race where youngsters from local schools and swimming clubs from across the country were given the opportunity to get a taste of swimming in the competition pool.