Johannesburg - Chad le Clos will be doing some soul-searching as he looks to eliminate distractions in his pursuit of butterfly greatness at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Since his famous victory over legendary American swimmer Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly at the London Olympics, Le Clos has been in cruise control.
“I want to be known as the best butterfly swimmer of all time and I know if I beat him (Phelps) next year, win the double gold and break his world records there is no question to ask,” Le Clos said.
“I started training hard already, there is no more distractions and I’m going back to my roots where I didn’t have a cellphone and there are some personal things I need to tweak.”
Le Clos spoke to Sport24 before the South African team’s departure for the Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo where he will be involved in the 50m and 100m butterfly with the swimming starting on Monday.
Le Clos jealously guarded his undefeated record in the butterfly events at major championships before Hungarian Laszlo Cseh usurped him of his 200m fly crown at the recent FINA World Championships in Kazan.
“I learned a lot of lessons from this, it would have been better for me (conceding the title)... it is a bit upsetting but in the bigger scheme of things it didn’t make any difference in my preparation (for Rio),” Le Clos said.
“If not it made me hungrier to be stronger, I know I need to go two seconds faster than I did this year because it will take a world record to win it next year.”
Phelps’ return to swimming seemed to have pulled Le Clos out of his comfort zone as he lacked proper challenges in the butterfly events since 2012.
“The most frustrating thing for me is I haven’t done a PB (personal best) since London, so at the World Cups I will have a full go and see what I can do,” he said.
While Le Clos was defending his world titles in Kazan, Phelps was making a statement of his own at the US Nationals.
Phelps clocked 1:52.94 in the 200m butterfly, the fastest time since he set the world record in 2009.
Following his defeat in the 200m butterfly, Le Clos had been motivated by his detractors’ claims he had lost his edge.
Le Clos stormed to the fastest 100m butterfly time in a textile suit ever, touching the wall in 50.56 seconds to retain his world title.
His celebratory chest pounding demonstrated how much the swim had meant to him and also signalled the return of his fighting spirit.
“It was more the fact that I did a time that Phelps hasn’t done in a long time, and it was more the fact that everybody was doubting me and that Michael swam such a fast time in the 200m fly,” Le Clos explained.
“I wanted to show everybody that it was just a bad race, so I was just happy with the way I bounced back.”
Following the race, Le Clos was quoted to have called out Phelps but the Durbanite maintains he had been quoted out context for what he believed was a tongue in cheek.
The following day Phelps produced a time of 50.45 seconds which was faster than his 100m butterfly winning time in London 2012.
"People probably still look at me and Phelps to be the favourites for next year, everybody is speaking about how big it is going to be with what is going on between Michael and me," Le Clos said.