GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - Australia’s Kyle Chalmers capped a remarkable return from heart surgery to lead home an Australian one-two finish in the men’s 200m freestyle final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Friday, pipping compatriot Mack Horton to the gold medal.
Chalmers, the Rio Olympics 100m freestyle champion who missed all of 2017 after having the corrective surgery, clocked one minute, 45.56 seconds, just ahead of 400m champion Horton, who finished in 1:45.89.
Scotland’s Duncan Scott, the fastest qualifier into the final, finished third.
“It’s awesome to go one-two with one of my best mates,” Chalmers said. “We had a race plan and we stuck to it really well.”
The 19-year-old Chalmers surprised himself with his stamina in the longer race.
“I like to try and stick with people and try and go in that last 50,” he said. “The third 50 felt pretty strong, and I knew I had a bit to give in that last 50.
“I do have that 100m background and I probably should be ... quicker, but to be able to come home like that in the last 50 gives me great confidence.”
The final was arguably the most high-powered of the second day of competition at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre with three Olympic champions in Chad les Clos, Chalmers and Horton, even if none were actually 200m freestyle winners.
England’s James Guy, however, was the 2015 world champion, while le Clos had claimed silver behind China’s Sun Yang in the event in Rio.
Chalmers had sat back as South Africa’s les Clos, who had won the 50m butterfly title about 20 minutes earlier, took on the early pace for the first two laps before Guy took the lead at the turn for home.
The Rio Olympics 100m freestyle champion then stormed past Guy and held off the fast finishing Horton.
“I knew it was close, but over in lane one breathing the other way, I couldn’t see much, and every now and again ducking my head up for a look, but just to go one-two with Kyle is pretty much a repeat of trials on this team,” Horton said.
“Kyle and I became really great mates while in Rio where we both shared gold. It’s special to do it with him here in front of a home crowd.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty