Chad le Clos bets on two Commonwealth medals …

Chad le Clos is on the stage of his profession when he is aware of what the following chapter will probably be about: “My legacy. I could also be 30 and a few folks could have deleted me, however do not. By no means do this. “

The South African swimming star has made a relaxed however decided determine within the Athlete Village of the College of Birmingham, his base for the 2022 Commonwealth Video games, the place he units out to rewrite the historical past books. Two medals are what you want from these Video games.

Only a month in the past, the vultures had been circling once more. “Le Clos is a SHOCK no-show for the 200m butterfly,” screamed the web media as he retired from the Fina World Championships in Budapest. Many brazenly puzzled whether or not or not his glory days had been firmly behind him.

A month in the past, he had informed al Put up & Guardian suffered from melancholy in 2021, to the purpose that “there have been instances once I was sitting in my room crying alone. I did not know why I used to be like this. “

However Le Clos stays exuberant and adamant that, at his fourth version of the Commonwealth Video games, in Birmingham, he’ll return to the rostrum.

“We guys from Pinetown are resilient,” he says, stating his early days within the metropolis of KwaZulu-Natal, 20km from Durban.

Le Clos was in his matric yr at Westville Boys’ Excessive when he gained double gold on the 2010 Commonwealth Video games in Delhi. Since then he has gained one other 15 medals on the Commonwealth Video games, leaving him at 17 and one lower than Australian sports activities shooter Phillip Adams because the Video games’ most prolific medalist.

Two medals would make him probably the most adorned Commonwealth Video games athlete of all time with 19.

Well being and historical past

“Folks appear to assume that if I do not win a gold medal, I’ve someway failed,” says Le Clos. “Being crushed nonetheless hurts, however folks do not know the background of what has occurred in the previous few years.

“Once more this yr, for the previous six to seven months, I’ve persistently taken antibiotics for extreme sinusitis. I’ve had bronchitis 4 or 5 instances. I’ve taken so many programs of antibiotics and each time I begin feeling vaguely human once more, I really feel like I am hit by one other wave.

“And final yr it was a whole cancellation. I don’t wish to go into the matter as a result of it’s not as much as anybody else to know. Nevertheless it was one thing so profound, it was worse than my mother and father’ most cancers and this was worse for them.

“So, from a well being perspective, I used to be not nicely. I’ve seen medical doctors and specialists and all they offer me is antibiotics. That is why I retired from the World Cup. I’ve this fixed rigidity in my chest, and my sinuses and respiratory solely enable me to go from 60 to 70%. “

Nevertheless, he says he’ll go to darkish locations to turn out to be probably the most adorned Commonwealth Video games athlete of all time in Birmingham.

In Glasgow in 2014, Le Clos overtook Australian Ian Thorpe because the swimmer with probably the most medals on the Commonwealth Video games and added 5 extra to that tally on the Gold Coast in 2018.

“I have been fascinated with these Commonwealth Video games for a very long time,” he says. “I want two extra gongs and am fairly assured that regardless of the setbacks, I’ll attain my purpose in Birmingham.

“To be sincere, I ought to have executed it sooner, however what folks want to recollect is that South Africa hasn’t all the time had relay groups on the Video games.

“Thorpe has gained six particular person medals on the Commonwealth Video games and I’ve already gained seven particular person golds. He’ll be trying on the medals within the 100 and 200 butterfly to push me previous the all-time report of 17 and hopefully decide up a pair extra as nicely.

South Africa’s Chad le Clos within the males’s 200m butterfly last through the swim occasion on day 5 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Video games at Tokyo Aquatics Heart on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Picture by Anton Geyser / Gallo Photos)

“This will probably be a part of my legacy and I’m decided to attain it. I may also turn out to be the perfect brief stroke swimmer of all time. Michael Phelps is taken into account the perfect long-duration swimmer ever, however I will have my story too. “

Talking of his journey to the Commonwealth Video games, Le Clos says he was “shocked” by what he achieved in India.

“I went there with the will to win a medal, however I gained two butterfly golds. This gave me confidence … You realize what occurred two years later on the London Olympics! I used to be assured! Then, two years later, Glasgow got here and I gained double gold once more, handed Thorpe’s swimming benchmark and gained seven medals in whole.

“Then, in 2018, they had been my greatest video games. I gained all three butterfly golds, the 50, 100 and 200 meters. I am the primary to confess it, sure [then world champion] Ben Proud was not DQd [disqualified]he would have gained the 50 meters, but it surely’s a part of the game. “

Fireplace and ambition

From the skin you all the time see Le Clos smiling; however, inside, he is a fighter who by no means will get used to defeating.

“It hurts each time I lose, and for me to complete second is to lose. However you may’t all the time speak about gold medals and I believe, on the age of 30, I lastly got here to just accept it.

Crew South Africa’s Chad le Clos within the males’s 200m butterfly semifinal through the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Video games Day 4 swim occasion at Tokyo Aquatics Heart on July 27, 2021, Tokyo, Japan. (Picture by Roger Sedres / Gallo Photos)

“Which does not imply I am right here in Birmingham to race for silver and bronze, and the identical goes for the 2024 Paris Olympics, though some have recommended that I will be too previous by then.

“My father tells me that even a Ferrari has to enter the pits to alter tires now and again.

“It took me a very long time to just accept that I’m now not that teenager who gained gold in Delhi 12 years in the past. However I nonetheless have that aggressive focus and ambition.

Le Clos factors to the emergence of teenage rising stars Matthew Sates and Pieter Coetze and says he can acknowledge a part of himself in them.

“I’ve been saying for a while that the depth of South African swimming is extra spectacular than it has been for a lot of, a few years,” says Le Clos.

“In addition to Sates and Coetze, there are additionally swimmers arriving. You all learn about Tatjana Schoenmaker, however there are additionally Kaylene Corbett and Lara van Niekerk within the ladies’s breaststroke competitions. Tatjana emerged on the Gold Coast scene 4 years in the past after which gained gold on the Tokyo Olympics.

“That is what the Commonwealth Video games do for us – it is a stepping stone to the Olympics and you may ensure we’ll see a few medalists at Paris 2024 in Birmingham. And do not exclude me from that dialogue both. DM

Gary Lemke is in Birmingham as Crew SA’s lead author.

This story first appeared in our Day by day Maverick 168 weekly newspaper, accessible nationwide for R25.

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