South African Matthew Sates earned his very first international medal on Friday, a silver in the 400m free – and once the 18 years-old settled, he started his golden run too, which stopped at four, at least here at the Berlin World Cup.
Yesterday, he claimed two more titles, bettered another junior world record and finished second to Netherlands’ breaststroke treble-maker Arno Kamminga in the overall. Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko was the surprise winner in the women’s overall, ahead Aussie Olympic hero Emma McKeon.
Time will tell if we saw a breakthrough performance in Berlin but Sates is well positioned to become South Africa’s new shining star, to keep the flag high after the Chad le Clos era is slowly approaching its end.
The teenage prodigy opened its World Cup campaign with a silver in the 400m free and claimed the 100m Individual Medley title later in the session. A day later, he smashed the junior world record in the 200m Individual Medley, then in the closing session he first completed the medley treble by winning the 400m by a mile, then some 80 minutes later he came home first in the 200m free.
He destroyed another junior world record in 1:40.65, got just 1.28sec away from the mighty Paul Biederman’s world record, set in the very same pool in the 2009 edition of the World Cup.
He was not the only young gun who finished 3/3 in a given stroke. Germany’s Christian Diener and Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga also made the 50-100-200m sweep.
Diener added the 100m to his backstroke collection while Kamminga won the 200m breast on the last day. It was not the first time triple peat for the duo. Diener did the backstroke treble in Moscow 2014 and Doha 2017, while the Dutchman delivered it in Budapest 2019.
Kamminga bettered Sates in the overall by a fingernail, the gap was 0.1 points. The combined calculation is based on the best three individual performances, by placement and time, according to the FINA Points.
The frequent fliers’ company also returned to the order from Day 1. USA’s Tom Shields hit the wall first in the 50m to beat Le Clos 2-1 this weekend. The South African, after claiming the 200m on Day 2, got the bronze in the dash, behind Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo.
As for the women’s events, the Olympic champions made order in a couple of events. Margaret MacNeil, after offering promising swims in the backstroke, won her main event, the 100m fly – ahead of Sweden’s Louise Hansson who had beaten her a day ago in the 100m back.
Aussie Emma McKeon was quite convincing in the 100m free: the most decorated female swimmer in Tokyo posted a sub-51sec swim to copy her Olympic feat of winning the 50m and 100m free.
On the contrary, 100m breast Olympic champion Lydia Jacobi of the US has yet to find her speed and rhythm in the short pool as she was denied in the 50m too, this time by Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko. The American came 5th in the 200m, 3rd in the 100m and finished runner-up in the 50m, though Gorbenko was much faster and won by 0.43sec.
The Israeli enjoyed a brilliant leg here in Berlin, she amassed the most total points in the new scoring system, ahead of McKeon.
Kira Toussaint of the Netherlands earned an easy victory in the 200m, after winning the 50m on the opening day, while Carmen Gormsen of the US, aged 16, also came first with a big advantage in the 800m free.
Swiss Maria Ugolkova, one hour after landing a bronze in the 100m fly, was a cut above the rest in the 200m Individual Medley.
It was remarkable for a special reason as for the first time in eight years, it was not Katinka Hosszu who took the gold in this event. The Hungarian was simply unbeatable in this event between 2013 and 2019 did not enter for a World Cup leg for the first time since her debut in 2012.
The session ended with another junior world record with the US quartet featuringd four teenagers beat their own mark from 2017 in the mixed 4x50m medley, though this effort was not enough to catch the German seniors who finished the home leg on a high note.