27 July 2015
Distance swimming ace Chad Ho won South Africa’s first 5km gold medal in the open water swim on Saturday, during the Federation Internationale de Natation (Fina) World Championships taking place in Kazan, Russia.
His victory comes six years after he made history as the first South African to win a medal in open water swimming at the global showpiece when he finished the 5km in third place in Rome, in 2009.
“I’m over the moon; I honestly couldn’t believe the result,” Ho said after winning the title.
“Today’s race was brutal, the wind was something else, and I had to fight the wind just to get a nice line.”
Ho won the race by the narrowest of margins, beating Germany’s Rob Muffels thanks to a photo-finish reading, with the two posting matching times of 55:17.6.
Muffels claimed the silver medal while Matteo Furlan of Italy bagged bronze in a time of 55:20.00.
“I know that I had done the work and it paid off in the end. going into the last 400m I told myself ‘you can do this’ and I repeated this a few times as I sprinted for the finish line,” Ho said about the tight finish for the victory.
“As I entered the final sprint I wanted to be close to the left lane rope so that I could breathe to the right.
“I saw Rob and Matteo and thought ‘oh no’ but I found my legs and my second wind. That’s what open water swimming is all about, the very close finishes like today.”
The pool events start on 2 August, when South Africa’s Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh will start their respective campaigns.
They will be joined by Sebastien Rousseau, Ayrton Sweeney and Myles Brown as the only members of the country’s swimming contingent.
Watch Ho talk about his win:
Fina, the International Swimming Federation, is the organisation recognised by the International Olympic Committee for managing international competition in aquatics.
It holds the championships every two years, in which athletes compete in swimming, diving, high diving, open water swimming, synchronised swimming and water polo.
The first competition took place in 1973.