SHANGHAI • Like wine, Nicholas Santos is getting better with age and while the evergreen Brazilian has yet to win an Olympic medal, it would be folly to discount him as a contender at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The 38-year-old further burnished his credentials in the pool after clinching his fourth world championship gold medal, winning the the 50m butterfly at the short-course World Swimming Championships yesterday.
After powering to victory over South Africa's Chad le Clos, the duo embraced warmly after their heavyweight sprinting duel in the 25m pool in Hangzhou, China.
The world-record holder, who will turn 39 in February, slapped the water in delight as he pipped le Clos by 0.16sec.
His winning time of 21.81sec was a new championship record and even though it fell just short of his global leading time of 21.75sec, set in October, he was clearly delighted to get one over his rival.
While the 26-year-old le Clos had been hoping to become the first male swimmer to land three 50m butterfly gold medals, he was fulsome in his praise of Santos, telling sports website thegames.co.za: "It was a great race and I am happy with my time.
"Of course, I would have liked to have won but fair play to Nick. That was a crazy time. I can't complain, it is what it is. Nick is phenomenal.
"He is 38 and he is winning world titles. I hope when I am 28, I am winning world titles."
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu similarly underlined her enduring quality as she claimed a fourth gold medal at the championships with a peerless victory in the 200m individual medley.
The 29-year-old blew away the rest of the field to win in 2min 3.25sec, 1.37sec ahead of American Melanie Margalis who was second.
The United States, the dominant team in Hangzhou, made it 11 golds at the meet when Olivia Smoliga won the women's 50m backstroke to add to her 100m backstroke win.
Japan's Daiya Seto also lifted his second gold when he triumphed in the men's 400m medley.
WORLD C'SHIPS (SHORT-COURSE)
Day 6: Heats, s-finals/finals: StarHub Ch112/205 & 76.25MHz, 9.15am & 5.45pm