The “tug of war” battle between Cameron Van Der Burgh and Adam Peaty continued on Tuesday afternoon during the FINA World Championships in Kazan with the Brit reclaiming the 50 metres breaststroke world record in the semi-finals a mere five hours after the South African set a new benchmark. During the morning’s heats it was the 27-year old who proved to be a man on a mission when he won his heat in 26.62 seconds to improve on the world record he set in 2009 by 0.05s. Peaty won his semi-final in 26.42s while the Pretoria man triumphed in his semi-final in a time 26.74s.
It was the two fastest times in the semi-finals. The Olympic gold medallist did not seem to be too fazed about the fact that his world record was bettered only a few hours later. Moments after he touched the wall he could be seen smiling broadly and giving a thumbs up sign hopefully indicating that he has something left in his “tank” for Wednesday’s final.
One thing is certain the battle for gold in the 50m breaststroke is definitely far from over. Purely judging by statistics Peaty, who has already won the 100m breaststroke final, might just be the favourite to take the title. It should be remembered that last year, in the semi-finals of the European Championships, the Brit also clocked a time of 26.62 seconds in the 50m breaststroke.
Unfortunately for him his record has not yet been ratified because he wasn’t tested for EPO, the hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells, after the Championships. However Emile De Bruin, who coaches Van Der Burgh when he trains at Tuks, is confident that anything can still happen in the final. De Bruin says: ‘Swimming 50 metres is always a lottery. If Peaty has another good start there is a chance that he might again swim a fast time as he is at the moment a swimmer on the up but tomorrow it won’t be breaking records it is about winning the gold medal. That is what a World Championship final is all about so the winning time might be slightly slower than in the semi-finals. It may sound strange, but in my opinion one of the best things that could have happened to Van Der Burgh was that Peaty broke his 100m breaststroke record in April. That was just the motivation Cameron needed to really get stuck in his training. It made him hungry to succeed again. A lot can happen in the next 24 hours so don’t count Cameron out. I really think Cameron is in a good place at the moment, especially because the shoulder injury that hampered him for more than a year is something of the past.’
Chad Le Clos only managed to finish 6th in the 200m freestyle-final in a time of 1:46.53. Britain’s James Guy won in 1:45.14 with Sun Yang (China) second in 1:45.20 and Germany’s Paul Biedermann third in 1:45.38. But a mere 50 minutes later Le Clos was at his usual best competing in his favourite butterfly stroke he qualified for Wednesday night’s 200m final winning his semi-final in 1:54.50.
Sebastien Rousseau finished seventh in his semi-final in a time of 1:56.96.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott