Gearing up for his third successive appearance at the Olympic Games, South Africa’s most decorated Olympian hopes to lead the medal charge once again at this year’s showpiece.
Four months out from the multi-sport spectacle in Tokyo, despite facing multiple new challenges in the build-up, Chad le Clos says he will be ready to shine when he returns to the pool.
With two-time Olympic medallist Cameron van der Burgh having retired, the national swimming team’s hopes for podium places will again rest largely on Le Clos, along with breaststroke sensation Tatjana Schoenmaker.
“It has obviously been quite tough because Covid hasn’t helped anybody, and training has been quite difficult over the last 12 months,” Le Clos said at the Mr Price/Team SA kit launch in Durban.
“But we’ve made a plan and we’ve got to a point where we’re ready to go, so whatever happens come July, I’ll be ready to rock and roll.”
After securing gold in the 200m butterfly and silver in the 100m butterfly at the 2012 London Olympics, at the age of 20, Le Clos went on to secure silver medals in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly finals at the 2016 Rio Games.
At the age of 28, he will now have to hold off challenges from younger opponents around the globe in an attempt to retain his place on the podium.
Having come a long way, however, since he stunned American legend Michael Phelps in London four years ago, he remains confident of his chances at the Tokyo Games, which was postponed by a year due to the pandemic.
“I want to do my family and my country proud,” said Le Clos, a four-time world champion and seven-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
“So I’m very excited to go and showcase my skills and represent my country to the best of my ability.”