Matt Sates continued his storming form at the second leg of the FINA World Cup series in Budapest, Hungary, over the weekend. His haul of five gold medals guided the South African team to third place on the medal table behind the USA and Australia.
The Pietermaritzburg teenager claimed another clean sweep of the individual medley events – the 100, 200 and 400m, also adding golds in the 200 and 400m freestyle to his collection.
Sates swam a phenomenal final 25m to reel in Lithuania’s short course world champion Danas Rapšys in the 400m freestyle to finish in 3:37.92 – his third short course world junior record in the space of a week.
Two days later, having swum to victory in the 400m IM earlier in the evening on Saturday, Sates also had to dig deep for his gold in the 200m freestyle. He outgunned two Olympic champions – Australia’s Rio 100 freestyle gold medallist Kyle Chalmers and Hungary’s Tokyo 200m butterfly gold medallist Kristof Milak – to take the gold in 1:41.51.
His five gold medals meant Sates earned 57.5 ranking points in Budapest to top the current standings after two legs of the series, just ahead of American Tom Shields.
“It felt great to get the 400 free junior world record in Budapest in front of the crowd. It was an amazing atmosphere,” said the 18-year-old, speakoing from the Hungarian capital. He added:
“It was very nice to get all five gold medals and be leading in the points scoring. This experience has definitely been life-changing. I can’t wait for the rest to follow and see how far I can go. Thank you FINA and Budapest for putting on a good show.”
Meanwhile, fellow Seals swimmer Martin Binedell returned to the podium with a silver medal in the 200m backstroke. He finished second behind Hungarian Hubert Kos in 1:53.12.
Emily Visagie took bronze in the 200m breaststroke, finishing third behind winner Viktoria Gunes of Turkey in 2:23.96.
Binedell and Visagie then teamed up with Tayla Lovemore and Brad Tandy to take silver behind the USA in the 4x50m medley relay in 1:43.68.
Coach Wayne Riddin was thrilled with the swimmers’ performances over the two legs of the World Cup, first in Berlin and then Budapest.
“It was great having the six Seals swimmers with me, having Brad and Tayla join us, and the way everyone swam was a highlight in my 43 years of coaching,” he said.
“For Matt to jump to new levels as we prepare for the World Short Course Championships in December, it all just came together. Breaking the first two junior world records in the same pool Darian Townsend set his world record was amazing.
“This is halfway through the World Cup series with just over a week for some training before aiming at the Doha and Kazan legs. It will be interesting as the competition heats up, especially with an experienced swimmer like Tom Shields who broke the USA 50m butterfly record at 30 years old.”
The next leg of the series takes place in Doha, Qatar from 21-23 October before the final leg in Kazan, Russia from 28-30 October.
The FINA Swimming World Cup is composed of a series of several meets and is generally considered one of the top-ranked competitions in the sport of Swimming. It is a global swimming competition in which the participants – individuals representing their countries / National Federations – compete for the title of FINA Swimming World Cup Winner.