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BARCELONA, Spain, July 31. IT took the slimmest of margins, but South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh reclaimed the world title in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke at the FINA World Championships this evening.
Although nearly every men’s breaststroke victory will be questioned until FINA elects to implement underwater cameras at the top meets in the world to stop illegal dolphin kicks, van der Burgh delivered an exciting finish against Australia’s Christian Sprenger with a textile best 26.77 to down Sprenger’s Australian-record 26.78. That’s the third time this week van der Burgh dipped under the previous textile best of 26.87 owned by Felipe Silva since last year, and tonight’s time stands as the fourth fastest ever, just .10 off van der Burgh’s techsuited world record of 26.67.
Tonight was van der Burgh’s fourth consecutive podium at Worlds as he has alternated bronze and gold medal performances since 2007. He took third to Oleg Lisogor in 2007, won in 2009, took third to Silva in 2011 and won this time around.
Unfortunately, there’s always going to be doubt in this stroke after van der Burgh won the 100-meter breaststroke Olympic gold medal last summer, then admitted to cheating because no one could enforce the rules correctly without underwater video technology. Sprenger is under the same cloud of doubt after his Olympic swim was seen to have illegal kicks last summer. His time tonight, however, puts him third all time in the sprint breaststroke.
South Africa’s Giulio Zorzi turned in a 27.04 for bronze as South Africa is the first country to ever pick up a pair of world medals in this event since its inception in 2001.
Slovenia’s Damir Dugonjic (27.05), Brazil’s Joao Gomes Jr. (27.20), New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders (27.21), Sweden’s Johannes Skagius (27.48) and Italy’s Mattie Pesce (27.53) comprised the rest of the championship heat.