Cape Town- Chad Le Clos knows he is under the pressure of expectation.
It happens every time he hits the pool deck.
The young South African, after all, beat Michael Phelps in the 200 metres
butterfly at the London Olympics, relegating the most successful Olympian of
all-time to silver and stopping the American from winning the event at three
That expectation will crystallise even further at the world championships in
Kazan, with the 23-year-old expecting them to provide a valuable insight to
next year's Rio Olympics.
"There is a lot of pressure for sure, especially after the rocky time I
have had with injury and illness,' Le Clos said via telephone.
"This is the most important event outside of the Olympics, everything
after this is just warm-ups.
"I'll be racing against the same people as next year in Rio so it is
important for me to show my best form to gauge where I am.
"So the world championships will be a vital test for me."
Le Clos has been blighted with injury and illness in the last six months,
but is confident after a two-month training and racing programme in the Middle
East and Europe he is in good shape to contest the 50, 100 and 200 metres
"I have already told my family there is a realistic possibility I could
come back with three silvers in the butterfly, or three bronze or three
fourths," he said.
"But I also believe I can get three golds. The butterfly is such an
open game at the moment."
Le Clos will also add the 200 freestyle to his programme in Russia, an event
he thinks he can excel in, but will need to show huge improvement to be in
"It will be the first time that I am swimming long-course
internationally in the freestyle, short-course is usually my game.
"It's important for me to perform well but I know that just to make the
semi-finals I will probably need to set a personal best time.
"Getting to the final will be really tough, but once you are there
anything can happen."
Whatever his fortunes in Kazan, Le Clos has set his sights in Rio on
becoming the most decorated male Olympian from the African continent, topping
the three gold and one silver medal of Ethiopian long-distance runner Kenenisa
Le Clos would need at least two golds from Rio to equal Bekele, whose
compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba has won three gold and two bronze medals and is the
most decorated African Olympian overall.
"I just want to be the best that I can be and if I win two gold medals
in Rio then I will become the most decorated (male) African Olympian of all
time," he added.
"That would be a huge achievement for myself and my family."