BUDAPEST: Chad le Clos won the men’s 200m butterfly gold medal at the world championships on Wednesday after defeating home favourite Laszlo Cseh, the defending champion, in Budapest.
South Africa’s Le Clos, the 2012 Olympic champion, clocked one minute 53.33 seconds with Hungary’s Cseh, 0.39sec behind, taking silver and Japan’s Daiya Seto earning bronze at 0.88sec.
“It was an emotional race, before, during and after it,” said Le Clos, who had braced himself for a raucous atmosphere at the Duna Arena.
The noise was near-deafening as the crowd roared on Cseh and Tamas Kenderesi, who finished fourth.
“I knew it was going to be difficult with everyone cheering for the two Hungarians,” said Le Clos.
“I’m very humbled to have come out on top and reclaim the gold medal that I lost last year,” he added, referring to his fourth-placed finish in the 2016 Olympic final.
Le Clos said his victory in Budapest atoned for his disappointment in the 200m butterfly in Rio, where it emerged during the Olympic Games that both his parents were battling cancer.
“Last year, my family’s health is more important than gold medals,” said Le Clos, who won Olympic silver in both the 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly.
“I make no excuses for what happened last year.
“I said that was the worst performance of my life in the 200m fly and I’d like to come back stronger and try to win the gold medal.
“That’s what I did tonight.”
Having won the world title in 2013, Le Clos took silver behind Cseh two years ago in Kazan.
“I’m still happy with the second place, the time is quite good to get the silver medal,” said the 31-year-old Cseh, who has battled hard with Le Clos in recent years.
“It’s great, I think if anyone can beat me, it is normal that it is Chad, because he’s one of the best in the world and it’s always great to race against him.”