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Le Clos eyes Olympic medal

2011-10-27 11:49
Chad le Clos (AFP)
Durban - Chad le Clos, one of South Africa's brightest medal prospects for next year's Olympic Games, says he will be disappointed with anything less than a podium place in London as he continues to enhance his reputation on the global stage.

The 19-year-old swimmer returned home to Durban on Wednesday, broad-smiled and still soaking in his current hot streak of form on the Fina World Cup circuit.

Le Clos heads the seven-leg series after four events, picking up 10 gold medals and defeating 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps (26) along the way.

"I'm definitely a medal contender for the Olympic Games next year," Le Clos said after making a low-key return to the country.

"I expect to be in the best shape of my life and will be very disappointed if I don't come away with a medal.

"I've been training my whole life for this and it's now approaching the boiling point. All the other distractions have to be put aside."

Le Clos, whose main events in the pool include the 200 metres butterfly and the 200m and 400m individual medley, was the star of the opening leg of the World Cup, a short-course series, in Dubai in early October.

He won six gold medals at the two-day meeting, while he added another two in Stockholm and one each in Moscow and Berlin to go with a host of silver and bronze medals.

That put him on 86 points in total - 16 more than his closest challenger, Hidemasa Sano of Japan, with American Phelps in third.

Le Clos twice beat Phelps - once in the 200m butterfly in Russia, where he finished second behind Sano with Phelps taking third, and again in the 100m butterfly at the same meeting where they finished fourth and fifth respectively.

"It was huge," Le Clos said. "It's not very often that you get to race against him, except at the Olympic Games and the [Fina] World Championships."

Le Clos hoped to emulate countrymen Ryk Neethling and Cameron van der Burgh, both former overall winners of the Fina World Cup.

He was disappointed, however, at the lack of publicity elite swimmers received in South Africa and was hoping for a change of mindset in the future.

"I think it's disappointing to come back home and not have any sort of acknowledgement," he said.

"I've been shocked and blown away by the coverage and support of the series overseas.

"Hopefully things will improve in South Africa because I feel the swimmers definitely deserve it on a whole.

"I know we're not a mainstream sport, but feeling loved and wanted is something we expect as ambassadors of our country."

The World Cup resumes with the fifth leg in Singapore on November 4 and 5.

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