Freestyle football great makes history with ninth world title
A World Championship bronze medal at the FINA Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, was the seventh world title for the South African world record holder, Chris Gayle, but the event was very much a one-off.
Gayle, a multiple world and all-around competition bronze medalist at a World Championships gold medal, was not satisfied with just another FINA world title at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China, on Saturday, and he will take the opportunity at the World Championship Masters Series event in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Thursday to make his mark on women’s football by winning a world title in which the South African will have as a teammate the USA’s Megan Rapinoe, and also the USA’s Sydney Leroux and Brazil’s Marta Vieira. He will also partner Rapinoe as he did against Canada in Montreal on July 20.
Despite beating Germany in the semis, Gayle, the six-time world champion, was upset by Brazil’s Marta Vieira in the final, 7-8, 7-6, 6-4. But even after such a defeat, and despite finishing the tournament with a perfect record, he was already looking forward to the Masters Series event in Rotterdam and was grateful for the help of USA coach Paul Whitfield.
“It’s an honour to be in the final again, but it’s not what we wanted at the end of the tournament,” said Gayle, 32.
“I wanted a final-four, and I’m very happy with my performance and the way I have played in the semis. I want to win this tournament,” added Gayle, who will be a semi-finalist with Rapinoe and Leroux against France and the Netherlands respectively.
“Megan and I are friends, and we are very excited about this opportunity for a final-four against the greats in