South Africa champion Townsend misses Olympic mark
4/19/2012 12:40:02 AM -
DURBAN, South Africa (AFP) - Former Olympic gold medalist Darian Townsend had mixed emotions after winning the 200 metres freestyle Wednesday at the South African national swimming championships.
His time of one minute 47.88 seconds was good enough to finish first, but 0.06 seconds outside the qualifying mark for the 2012 Olympic Games in London during July and August.
Townsend, who won gold at the 2004 Athens Games in the 4x100m relay with Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Ryk Neethling, will get further chances this week to book a ticket to the English capital.
"Missing the qualifying time is a little bit disappointing, but I still have the 200m individual medley, which is my main event, and the 100m freestyle to come," the 27-year-old said.
"My best shot of getting a medal in London is going to be the 200m individual medley and the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 200m freestyle clashes with the relay.
"It would have been a tough decision to make -- now that decision is kind of made for me," Townsend said after the third day of the championships at the Kings Park pool in the Indian Ocean city.
Charl Crous boosted his chances of going to the Games by dipping below the qualifying time in the semi-finals and final en route to 100m backstroke success.
He clocked 54.19 seconds in a Tuesday semi-final and 54.17 a day later to better the 54.40 mark and the 21-year-old must achieve the feat once more after the championships to secure a place in the South African team.
"After bettering the mark in the semi-finals, my coach, family and friends had a lot of confidence in me so I am thrilled to have achieved another good time," said Crous.
No South African swimmer won a medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and London hopefuls must match or better qualifying marks twice to book places with one of the times having to be achieved during the week-long national championships.