Olympics 2012

Le Clos targets London medal

2012-07-15 15:43
Chad le Clos (File)

Johannesburg - While his sights are set on Rio de Janeiro in four years' time, Chad le Clos could taste Olympic glory earlier than planned at the London Games this year.

He will, however, be stretched in the English capital competing in a South African record seven events in the swimming pool.

Le Clos first made a splash on the international arena in 2010 when he won five medals at both the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

At the time, he was as a matriculant at Westville Boys' High School in Durban.

He was also crowned world short-course champion in the 200 metres butterfly in Dubai that same year.

The 20-year-old continued his march in the ranks of international swimming when he won the coveted Swimming World Cup series at the end of last year.

He emulated Ryk Neethling and Cameron van der Burgh, both former overall winners of the World Cup series, bagging 23 gold, 10 silver and two bronze medals for a total medal haul of 35.

"I'm definitely a medal contender for the Olympic Games next year," Le Clos said at the time.

“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."

His successes on the World Cup circuit elevated him as a serious medal prospect for the Games.

Added to the medal harvest, Le Clos also defeated 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps.

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

However, Le Clos still needs to replicate the performance from the short-course in the Olympic-sized pool.

National swimming coach and Le Clos' mentor Graham Hill, nonetheless, believes his charge has what it takes to win an Olympic medal in London.

"Bearing in mind it will be his first Olympics, there is no doubt he will be a medal contender," Hill said.

"He's really progressed in these last few months, from his reputation to his maturity to all aspects as an individual.

"The aspirations weren't that big until recently, but now with everything that has happened, the aspirations are there from everyone.

"He's proved to the world what he can do."

Le Clos will compete in the 200 metres and 400m individual medley, 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly events.

He could also compete in three relays, which would bring his total to seven events at the Games.

Of all the events he will compete in at the Games, his seventh world ranking in the 200m butterfly is his highest.

Le Clos would not only be competing against the likes of Phelps and Ryan Lochte, but fatigue could also be a factor for him, should he be involved in 15 races over seven days - if everything goes according to plan.

"This is huge for me, it's the Olympic Games we're talking about,” Le Clos said of qualifying for the Games earlier this year.

Read more on:    olympics 2012  |  chad le clos  |  swimming


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