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Jubilant Le Clos returns home

2013-08-13 12:55
Chad le Clos (Gallo)

Johannesburg - South African swimming sensation Chad le Clos arrived home on Tuesday following a successful fortnight in the pool, which included a world short course record and two world titles to his name.

“The last two weeks have been crazy... even the build-up to the world championships was huge and the expectations for Cameron van der Burgh and I were really big,” Le Clos said at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday.

“Coming into these championships, we had a target on our backs and it feels better that we had that and delivered.

“It is one thing going into the championships as the underdog and then winning, but when you are the favourite and winning it actually feels better.”

Le Clos won both the 100 and 200m butterfly golds at the recent Fina World Championships in Barcelona, becoming the first South African swimmer to win two events in the same discipline at the global showpiece.

Topping-off two fantastic weeks for the Olympic gold medallist, Le Clos then set a new world record in the men's 200m butterfly short course at the Swimming World Cup challenge in Eindhoven, Netherlands the following week.

He chased the world mark of one minute, 49:11 seconds (1:49.11) to stop the clock in a new world record time of 1:49:04.

“A lot of people say the short course world record doesn’t mean a lot but I will remember that day for the rest of my life,” he said about adding the world record to his growing list of accolades.

Le Clos shot to international fame at last year's London Olympic Games when he unseated American legend Michael Phelps in the men's 200m butterfly final and finished joint-second behind him in the 100m butterfly event.

The 21-year-old said he had been battling nerves ahead of the world championships, but grew in confidence as he made his way through the rounds.

“I had a bit of a shaky start to the year and all the pressure that was building for the championship was there, but the added pressures of knowing that I haven’t been in the shape of my life were also concerning for me,” he said.

“I knew that I had a lot of pressure and I was really nervous but as the rounds drew further, I got more confidence.

“When the 100m fly came, I was confident that I could win that too. If you keep winning in the heats and the semi-finals you have that winning mentality.”

Le Clos said he would slowly but surely ease his way back into the medley events and made his first step towards that goal at the second leg of the World Cup Series in Berlin over the weekend.

He finished second in the men's 200m individual medley (IM) behind Australia’s Kenneth To in a time of 1.52.11.

“I got a silver in the 200m IM which is a PB (personal best) for me, so it is positive steps for me in the right direction and I need to improve in a lot of things,” Le Clos said.

“My backstroke is semi there and my breaststroke is a long way off.”

Le Clos, who is the defending Commonwealth champion in the 400m IM event, said he had some time to fine-tune his medley swimming before the next World Cup event.

Read more on:    chad le clos  |  swimming

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