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Heartache driving Le Clos, says coach

2016-08-06 00:15
Chad le Clos (Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro - Olympic champion Chad le Clos will be swimming for "other reasons" in Rio after his parents were diagnosed with cancer, according to South Africa coach Graham Hill.

Le Clos has said he will not speak to the media in the build-up to the defence of his Olympic 200m butterfly title.

But Hill has paid credit to the swimmer's courage after father Bert was found to have prostate cancer and mother Geraldine underwent a double mastectomy, predicting that the heartache could drive Le Clos on.

"He's going to be swimming for other reasons now and maybe that will help him," Hill said at the Rio Olympic pool.

The 24-year-old Le Clos, who also won silver in the 100m butterfly at the 2012 London Olympics, released a statement last month, saying: "It has not been an easy time but I am training hard for Rio. More than anything else I want them to win their battles. I also hope that they will be in Rio."

Father Bert melted hearts worldwide four years ago when television images showed him celebrating Chad's victory exuberantly.

Both parents are regularly seen in the crowd cheering their son, who has also won three world titles and collected seven gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"We've had a bumpy road the last couple of months," said Hill. "But we were aware of the problems before Chad put out the release, so we knew everything about it.

"I've been his coach for 16 years and he's basically like family to me," added Hill. "We're pretty close and everything's good with him. He's a tough boy, a brave boy, and he's in a good place."

South Africa will bank on Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh, the reigning Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, to deliver in Rio, although van der Burgh will expect fierce pressure from Britain's world champion Adam Peaty.

"It's the same two big boys," said Hill, referring to South Africa's only two swimming medallists in London.

"We'll look to the big swims from them and hopefully they can carry the youngsters through and maybe we'll have an outside shot in one of our relays.

"We don't like to set a target, a medal count. But we'd obviously like to come away with one better than we did in London and so we're shooting for something in that region."

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