Young swimming sensation, Zane Waddell has claimed South Africa’s first gold medal at the 2019 Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
The 21-year-old touched in 24.43 seconds to win the 50-metre backstroke on the last day of the competition.
Waddell who won gold at the recent World University Games was the only South African to make to the concluding finals. The 21-year-old who is featuring for the first time at the Fina World Championships did not have a powerful start. He did, however, manage to finish strong ahead of Russia’s Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov who finished second and third respectively.
Waddell reached the wall in 24.43 seconds, just less than a tenth shy of the South African record.
He ended the country’s 12-year podium drought in the event with Gerhard Zandberg being the last South African to win gold in 2007.
Prior to his win, South Africa’s performance on Sunday was disappointing. The poor results included that of both the men’s and women’s four by 100 meters medley relays.
The men’s team that also featured Chad Le Clos finished 23 out of the 27 teams that competed.
The women found themselves in a similar position, finishing 17th from the strong 21 teams. South Africa managed just four medals in Gwangju, which include a silver by Tatjana Schenmaker, while Le Clos bagged two bronze medals in the100 and 200 meters butterfly.