Schoenmaker leads medal race as Le Clos targets Games history



He won’t be the South African swimmer with the best chance of making it to the podium like Tatjana Schoenmaker and Lara van Niekerk aspire to dominate the women’s breaststroke, but Chad le Clos has the opportunity to make history when Commonwealth Games starts in Birmingham this weekend.

As for the medals, for the main contenders of the country in the pool, we have to look at the female contingent.

Responsible again

Despite being stunned earlier this year by teenager Van Niekerk at the national championship, Schoenmaker is expected to lead the national attack.

The 200m breaststroke world record holder skipped the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest to focus on defending her 100m and 200m title in Birmingham, and she must aim for the water.

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Van Niekerk, meanwhile, is looking to build on his impressive form this year, adding to bronze medal she earned the 50m breaststroke at the World Championships, while Olympic finalist Kaileen Corbett will also want to contribute to the breaststroke final.

Another teenager, Matthew Seyts, will be just as eager for a podium spot after the versatile 18-year-old reached the top. 200m medley final at the recent World Cup.

However, while his younger compatriots try to raise their hands, all eyes will be on Le Clos throughout the gala.

Twelve years after he first walked on the podium, the 30-year-old swimmer in pursuit of a medal record which would make him the most decorated athlete in any sport in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

Le Clos
Chad le Clos set his sights on a major Commonwealth Games record. Photo: Getty Images

Le Clos has amassed a total of 17 medals in the last three events and needs another to match the Games record of 18 set by shooters Philip Adams of Australia and Mick Gault of England. Two more medals would have put him ahead.

Having competed in several individual events, Le Clos also hopes that the national relay teams will be able to shine to improve his chances of a podium finish.

Even if he doesn’t win gold or win individual gongs, such longevity is remarkable and any Le Clos medal worthy of celebration.