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Dunford Defends African 'Fly Crown

Sep 7, 2011  - Craig Lord

Kenyan Jason Dunford held off South African Chad Le Clos to successfully defended his All-Africa Games 100m butterfly crown in 52.13sec in the race pool in Maputo, Mozambique. The bronze went to Le Clos's teammate Neil Watson.

However, South Africa had the lion's share of glory once more, Le Clos going on to win the 400m medley crown in 4:16.88 ahead of Taki Mrabet, of Tunisia, the bronze going to the champion's teammate Riaan Schoeman. 

World record-holder Cameron van der Burgh clocked 27.81sec to win in the 50m breaststroke, ahead of Mallick Fall, who won the first medal of these Games for Senegal, and Algerian Nabil Kebbab. Suzaan van Biljon won the 200m breaststroke in 2:31.53 ahead of Sarra Lajnef, from Tunisia, and RSA's Kathryn Meaklim and Karin Prinsloo claimed her third gold of the week in the women's 200m freestyle, on 1:59.84.

If Africa's leading swim force was in the limelight in the pool, there was no ignoring the clouds on the deck. Van der Burgh entered the fray of an argument between former South African captain Gerhard Zandberg and the South African federation, when he said: "People do not realise what an honour it is to represent your country and declining is disgraceful." 

Zandberg withdrew from the quadrennial Games after a row with national federation officials at a time when swimmers have expressed displeasure over the financing of the sport amid investigations into allegations of misuse of federation funds.

The inquiry was prompted by the accusations of a former staff member who claimed that federation funds were being misused by officials at the helm of the governing body.

In the wake of the world championships in Shanghai in July, Swimming South Africa (SSA) was forced to defend itself against allegations that they are not supporting elite swimmers on the way to London 2012.

"We have tried our best in difficult financial times to support all our swimmers who are performing," SSA president Jace Naidoo told reporters. "We do realise that while we hope that all those selected will perform, there are those who pick up injuries or get sick at the wrong time which affects their performances. I do feel the targeted group of swimmers are on track to do their best in London next year."

Zandberg, who won one of three medals for South Africa in Shanghai, gave warning that the nation faced a mass exodus of elite swimmers if it failed to respond to concerns. "We don't rely on the federation anymore and we are making our own plans to scrape funds together," Zandberg told reporters. "I believe many of our local swimmers will go overseas in the next 10 years."

Meanwhile, in Maputo there was a second gold of the meet for Ahmed Mathlouthi, Tunisia, on 8:10.0 the 800m freestyle ahead of South Africans Mark Randall and Jasper Venter.

Egypt also celebrated gold,  Farida Osman taking the 50m butterfly in 27.08 ahead of Mandy Loots (RSA) and Binta Zahra Diop (SEN).