Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 41

ADVERTORIAL Chad Ho, Michael McGlynn & Henre Louw Double Delight as SA Swimmers Dominate Midmar It was a day for South African celebrations as the Durban duo of Robyn Kinghorn and Michael McGlynn wrapped up the women and men’s titles at the aQuellé Midmar Mile on 9 February. I Robyn Kinghorn nternational swimmers have dominated the elite events in recent years, with the last double home victory coming in 2016 from Michelle Weber and Chad Ho. Those 2016 champions, who are both looking towards Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification later in the year, were aiming for a repeat of that feat in this year’s race, but were beaten in dominant fashion. Both Kinghorn and McGlynn mastered the choppy conditions to perfection as they they powered to the front of their respective races, and could not be caught over the mile-long course. Best of the Speedsters Kinghorn chose a line across the dam that was well to the right of the chasing pack and it proved a wise choice as she stayed in front to finish in 21 minutes 16 seconds. Samantha Randle finished in second place 11 seconds later, with Victoria Earle third in 21:30 and Weber home fourth. “The chop was extremely bad, so looking up I did get quite a few waves in my face,” said 20-year-old Kinghorn afterwards. “I didn’t really know where I was going, so swimming along and seeing the others in a bunch was quite concerning, but I just put my head down and went for it.” The men’s race saw McGlynn also well out in front from the start, apparently relishing the challenging rough conditions. Having finished second in last year’s race, he was determined to win this time, and he reached the finish in 18:26. Seven-time champion Ho was Michael McGlynn second in 19:02, with Henré Louw third a further five seconds later. Describing the line he took across the dam, McGlynn said, “I decided to just go with what felt right, and that was the middle. It changes every year. I’m a sea swimmer as well, so these conditions kind of played into my hands and it was my day. It’s my first win, and I’m glad I could do it for South Africa as well.” Ones for the Ages Earlier in the day, before the wind picked up, American Lexie Kelly once again dominated the women’s 31-40 age category, winning the race in 22:36. “It was so awesome, it was so smooth. The water was really glassy. I got in a nice little pack with some guys and had a really good line and a beautiful swim,” she said afterwards. “This is my fourth win in a row, and my goal is to win the full decade from 30 and over.” One of the most impressive swims of the day came from 1977 Midmar champion Paul Blackbeard, soon to turn 62, who not only won the men’s 61 to Paul Blackbeard 70 category in 21:34, but emerged from the water as overall winner of the second event, for swimmers 13 and under and 30 and over. “It was better than yesterday, still a bit bumpy, but it was a nice swim and the water is nice and clean. I thought there would be a 13-year-old much closer to me, so that was a bit of a surprise that a 61-year-old can win it,” said the former South Africa star who is now based in Perth and owns every Australian record in his age group from 100 to 1500m freestyle. Meanwhile, among the future stars of the sport, Bailey Forrest won the girls’ 13 and under race in 23:39 and Connor Reinders won the boys 13 and under category in 22:48. Also making his way across the dam on Sunday was former backstroke World Champion Gerhard Zandberg who represented South Africa at four World Championships and two Olympic Games. “It’s tough for me, because I like the shorter stuff. To swim for 20 to 25 minutes full speed in choppy water is a challenge, but it’s fun. At 500 to 600m you start looking up and seeing if it’s getting any closer,” he admitted with a laugh. Second Chances Elsewhere, Ebrahim Mahomed from Pietermaritzburg was determined to finish his first ever aQuellé Midmar Mile. It took him 1 hour 28 minutes and 5 seconds, but that didn’t matter. The disabled swimmer, who received a massive cheer at the finish, explained, “My daughter has been swimming for the last two or three years, and I only learnt how to swim last year after watching her swim. It was a fantastic experience. I actually did it yesterday, but there was some lightning so they stopped the race for safety reasons when I had about 300m left, so I wanted to do it again today. It was tough, after yesterday’s race, but I managed,” he added, joking that his next mission is to beat his daughter. Ebrahim Mahomed To see the full results of the 2020 aQuellé Midmar Mile, go to 41