Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
10 Aug 2016
6:08 am

‘Shadow boxer’ Le Clos bombs out in title defence

Wesley Botton

Defending champion Chad le Clos was left dejected in the early hours of Wednesday morning (SA time) after the South African swimming star missed out on a podium place in his favoured 200m butterfly event at the Rio Olympics.

South Africa's Chad le Clos. AFP

The 24-year-old Durbanite, who had stunned the field to grab silver in the 200m freestyle the day before, was lying third for most of the fly final but rather than unleashing his trademark surge down the final length, he faded to fourth place in 1:54.06.

Before the semifinal the previous evening, Le Clos had faced a barrage of criticism from American fans for shadow boxing in front of US legend Michael Phelps in the call room and going on to qualify fourth fastest for the final.

With Phelps going on to win his 20th Olympic gold medal in 1:53.36 (before adding another in the 4x200m freestyle final later on Wednesday morning), Le Clos was clearly downbeat after he failed to make the podium, and before he got out the pool the public were already having a field day on social media for the South African’s pre-race antics in the penultimate round.

Le Clos did not stop to talk to the media in the mixed zone after the race, keeping his head down and waving his hand at requests for comment.

He would have one more chance to redeem himself at the Rio Games, however, in another match-up against Phelps, with the 100m butterfly heats scheduled to be held on Thursday.