African Championships: Ous Mellouli Shines

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, December 1. OLYMPIC 1500 meter champion Ous Mellouli gave the fans a taste of what is to come throughout the week, as he powered his way to victory in the 200 freestyle final, on the opening day of the 9th African Swimming Championships, held at the Ellis Park Aquatics Centre today.

Tunisia's Mellouli, holder of the African records in the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle and 400 individual medley, turned on the speed in the final 50 to take gold in 1: 50.28, followed by Kenya's Jason Dunford (1:52.06) and Durbanite Riaan Schoeman (1:52.76).

Soweto swim star Thabang Moeketsane seemed to have the 100 breaststroke final under control, until a late surge by Senegal's Malick Fall saw the gold medal go away from South Africa. Fall clocked 1:02.71, with SA's world championship 200 breaststroke gold medalist William Diering showing fine speed over the shorter distance to take silver in 1:02.72. Moeketsane ended third in 1:04.30.

A short while later, Mellouli was back on the medal podium, this time collecting a bronze medal in the 50 meters backstroke, in 26.92. Dunford took the title in 26.73, with South African Darren Murray claiming second spot in 26.85.

Durban-based Melissa Corfe collected the first gold medal of the 6-day African swimming showpiece, when she took the honors in the 100 meters freestyle in 58.10, with Tunisian Sarra Chahed (58.21) and Achieng Ajulu-Bushell of Kenya (58.72) ending second and third respectively.

With Mellouli expected to be in action in the 50, 100, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle as well as the 100 and 200 backstroke, 200 and 400 individual medley, and a host of top South Africans in the hunt for medals, the Ellis Park Aquatics Centre is expected to be a hive of activity this week.

Powered by the financial support of Telkom, the City of Jo'burg, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Sport and Recreation SA, Gauteng Sport and Recreation, Arena and Bestmed, the African swimming showpiece has attracted swimmers from countries including Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Guinea, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the hosts, South Africa.

Special thanks to Swimming South Africa for contributing this report.

100 meters breaststroke: 1 M Fall (Sen) 1:02.71, 2 W Diering (SA) 1:02.72, 3 T Moeketsane (SA) 1:04.30
200 meters freestyle: 1 O Mellouli (Tun) 1:50.28, 2 J Dunford (Ken) 1;52.06, 3 R Schoeman (SA) 1:52.76
50 meters backstroke: 1 J Dunford (Ken) 26.73, 2 D Murray (SA) 26.85, 3 O Mellouli (Tun) 26.92

100 meters freestyle: 1 M Corfe (SA) 58.10, 2 S Chahed (Tun) 58.21, 3 A Ajulu-Bushell (Ken) 58.72
50 meters backstroke: 1 S Chahed (Tun) 31.08, 2 R Warnes (SA) 31.58, 3 ZB Diop (Sen) 32.44