Yesterday, South Africa was made proud by Zane Waddell. The 21-year-old senior-to-be at the University of Alabama won gold in the men’s 50m backstroke on the final day of the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
By touching the wall in 24.43 seconds, Waddell shared the podium with two Russians: Evgeny Rylov won silver losing only 0.06 seconds, and the world record holder in the men’s 50 back, Kliment Kolesnikov, got bronze.
“The night really came together. The warm up went really well. A lot of emotion at the end of that race. There is nothing I can describe: it has always been a dream of mine to be a world champion and it’s amazing to finally realise that dream and go out and achieve it,” Waddell said. “I knew it was going to be the closest race of my life. I have huge respect for the other seven competitors out there and it’s just an amazing spirit to have got my hand first to the wall, it just so happened to be me, it’s amazing.”
It was the first competing in major championships for Wadell and, according to national coach Graham Hill, he displayed his potential at the highest level.
Three other medals for South Africa were won by Chad le Clos (two bronze medals) and Tatjana Schoenmaker (1 silver medal).