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Townsend, Schoeman secure Olympics places

By AFP
By AFP

4/22/2012 12:00:04 AM -

DURBAN, South Africa (AFP) - Former Olympic swimming gold medalists Darian Townsend and Roland Schoeman secured places Saturday in the South African team for the 2012 London Games.

Townsend had to settle for second place in the 200 metres individual medley final behind the star of the national championships, 20-year-old Chad le Clos, but his time was inside the qualifying mark.

Le Clos, considered one of the best South African prospects for an Olympic medal this July and August, finished first in one minute 58.97 seconds with Townsend (1:59.34) second and Sebastien Rousseau (2:00.37) third.

"It has been a pretty stressful week for me as I am not used to missing qualification," said Townsend, who was part of the gold-medal winning 4x100m relay team at the 2004 Athens Games.

"I usually get the required times within a few races but I am glad to have qualified for London in the end and it is a huge relief," he said at the Kings Park pool in the Indian Ocean city.

Schoeman, also part of the triumphant relay team in the Greek capital, said he was "absolutely ecstatic" after securing his place by dipping below the qualifying mark with a time of 22.08 en route to the 50m freestyle final.

"I have been so close for the past seven months and to better the qualifying standard is a big monkey off my back, coming here tonight and swimming that kind of time."

Karin Prinsloo used the women's 200m backstroke semi-finals to secure her passport to the Games, clocking 2:10.74 to dip 0.10 of a second below the qualifying standard.

Suzaan van Biljon was the fourth competitor to win a place in the London team on the penultimate day of the championships as she finished first in the 200m breaststroke final in 2:26.74 after going even faster in the semi-finals.

No South African swimmer won a medal at the 2008 Beijing Games and London hopefuls must match or better qualifying marks twice to qualify, with one of the times having to be achieved during the national championships.