Ageless Santos eclipses Le Clos for butterfly world gold
Nicholas Santos slapped the water in delight after the Brazilian veteran powered to victory over Chad le Clos to win the 50m butterfly at the short course World Swimming Championships on Saturday.
The duo embraced warmly after their heavyweight sprinting duel in the 25m pool in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, where world record-holder Santos, who will be 39 in February, pipped the South African by 0.16secs.
Santos's winning 21.81secs was a new championship record and even though it fell just short of his global leading time of 21.75secs, set in October, he was clearly delighted to get one over rival Le Clos, the reigning champion and an Olympic gold medallist.
Santos has won this event before too, but that was way back in 2012, highlighting how he has remained a top-class swimmer even as he approaches middle age.
"Now I'm two-time world champion and for me, it's amazing," said Santos, who also earned bronze earlier in the evening with Brazil's 4x50m men's medley relay team.
"I was anxious to swim to know what I was going to do, and I got the gold, it's nice.
"It would be good to swim 21.75 again (world record), but it's not happening. Maybe if I didn't swim the relay, probably I could have broken the world record, but it's a game."
Hungary's "Iron Lady" Katinka Hosszu similarly underlined her enduring quality as she claimed a fourth gold medal at these championships, on what was the penultimate day of action.
Hosszu grabbed seven golds at the same meeting two years ago, and while she will not match that feat this time, the 29-year-old made it a fourth title in Hangzhou with a peerless victory in the 200m individual medley.
The triple gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympics blew away the rest of the field to win in 2mins 03.25secs, 1.37secs ahead of Melanie Margalis of the United States, in silver, with her fellow American Kathleen Baker taking bronze, 2.29secs off.
Hosszu adds the 200m medley to the golds she won this week in the 100m medley, 400m medley and 200m butterfly.
The United States, the dominant team in Hangzhou, made it 11 golds for the meeting when Olivia Smoliga won the women's 50m backstroke. She also won the 100m backstroke earlier in the week.
Japan's Daiya Seto also won his second gold when he triumphed in the men's 400m medley and there was a second breaststroke gold for Jamaica's Alia Atkinson.
All seven golds up for grabs on the night were won by seven different countries.