Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – South Africa’s Chad le Clos moved a step closer to becoming the most successful athlete in Commonwealth Games history by sweeping to gold in the men’s 50m butterfly on Friday.
England’s Olympic champion Adam Peaty limbered up for the defence of his Commonwealth 100m breaststroke crown by setting a Games record of 58.59 in the semi-finals, despite rain at Gold Coast’s outdoor venue.
Four-time world champion le Clos took full advantage of title-holder Ben Proud’s absence to win in 23.37 seconds.
He is now just five medals behind shooters Mick Gault and Philip Adams, who lead the all-time Commonwealth Games tally with 18.
Le Clos finished a distant second behind world champion Proud in Thursday’s heats but the Englishman was disqualified for a false start, gifting the South African an opportunity he gleefully seized.
Dylan Carter took silver for Trinidad and Tobago, three-tenths back, with fellow South African Ryan Coetzee claiming bronze in 23.73.
“That’s the only (50m) medal that I’ve ever won in long course,” said le Clos.
“I’ve never been in lane four in a 50 final in my entire life. I didn’t want to talk about it, but if Ben Proud had been in the final he would have won for sure,” he added.
“Fortunately or unfortunately I got the gold medal and I’m happy with that.”
Just moments after collecting his gold medal, le Clos returned for the 200m freestyle final but failed to match his surprise silver in the event at the 2016 Rio Olympics as Australian Kyle Chalmers powered to victory.
Olympic 100m champ Chalmers touched in 1:45.56 as fellow Aussie Mack Horton pinched silver in 1:45.89 from lane one, a day after adding the Commonwealth crown to his Olympic title in the 400m.
Duncan Scott (1:46.30) took bronze for Scotland while le Clos faded over the final lap to finish seventh.
Elsewhere, Sarah Vasey took down gold medal favourite Alia Atkinson to snatch a shock gold medal in the 50m breaststroke after a powerful finish, leaving the Jamaican flag-bearer with silver for the second successive Games.
Vasey clocked 30.60 to pip Atkinson by 0.16 seconds with defending champion Leiston Pickett taking bronze for Australia.
“I’m really, really happy,” said Vasey after capturing England’s third swimming title.
“I just wanted to join the gold rush that went on last night from the English team.”
Australia’s Cate Campbell qualified fastest for the women’s 50m freestyle final as she edged out sister Bronte to clock a Games record of 23.88 seconds.