Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
9 Aug 2016
5:57 am

Le Clos charges to second SA medal

Wesley Botton

Chad le Clos stunned the majority of the line-up in the men's 200m freestyle final in the early hours of Tuesday morning (SA time), earning South Africa's second medal of the Rio Olympics.

FILE PICTURE: Chad le Clos. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.

The 24-year-old swimmer who is better known for his butterfly exploits, the stroke in which he earned two medals at the 2012 London Games, had been written off by many as a potential medallist after qualifying seventh fastest from the semifinals.

Diving in from lane one, he got off to an explosive start and held the lead at the final turn of the four-length race.

Though he was caught by Chinese favourite Sun Yang, he held on to touch the wall in second place, setting a new SA record of 1:45.20.
Yang tore ahead in the closing stages to win gold in 1:44.65.

“I don’t think anyone gave him a chance,” Le Clos’ coach, Graham Hill, said after the race.

Le Clos returned to the pool later in the session to qualify fourth fastest for the 200m butterfly final, to be held in the early hours of Wednesday morning, touching the wall in 1:55.19.

The defending champion in the event, he would turn out in a rematch against American legend Michael Phelps, who was second quickest in 1:54.12.

Should he step on the podium again, he will become South Africa’s most decorated Olympian with four career medals.