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Le Clos misses Phelps

2013-07-31 07:46
Chad le Clos (AFP)

Barcelona - Olympic champion Chad le Clos has admitted he will be missing the presence of swim legend Michael Phelps when he goes into Wednesday's 200m butterfly final at the world championships.

The 21-year-old South African pulled off a shock victory at the London Olympics when he beat Phelps in the American's key event.

Phelps retired from swimming after collecting the last of his 18 Olympic gold medals at London 2012, leaving Le Clos as the favourite for Wednesday's final - a situation the African is having to learn to deal with.

"It's a little nerve-wracking I am not going to lie," said Le Clos, who was the fastest qualifier from the 200m semi-finals.

"I like to be in the big finals, I like to race the best and this year is no different.

"There are many guys out there that can beat me but I will fight till the end."

But without US star Phelps to aim at, Le Clos admits it is different having other swimmers look at him as the target to beat.

"It was a little bit different yesterday being in the last heat and not looking around you to see him (Phelps)," he said.

"It is pretty cool, it's fun for a change to watch him in the stands like I watched him for so many years."

In Wednesday's final, Clos has plenty of rivals with Poland's Korzeniowski ranked number one in the world, while both China's Wu Peng and Chen Yin posted fast semi-final times.

Le Clos' Barcelona campaign got off to a bumpy start on Sunday, the opening day of competition, when he failed to qualify from the 50m butterfly heats.

Experimenting with the sprint event has taught him a valuable lesson, he said with Le Clos also racing in the 100m butterfly heats on Friday.

"The 50m was very bad for me, I had a bad race," he said of Sunday's heats in which he was 23rd fastest with only 16 going through to the semi-finals.

"I don't want to make excuses so I am not going to say what went wrong but I think I can learn from that and not take events like that so lightly.

"It's short so you almost think it's easier and I can relax a little bit but I think that is the mistake I made."

Read more on:    chad le clos  |  swimming
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