Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

‘Let’s finish with gees’: Le Clos encourages SA’s Olympians to put up a fight

A four-time medallist, Le Clos will compete at his fourth successive Olympics this year.

Though the SA team won’t be chasing a record medal haul, with little more than a handful of genuine contenders, Chad le Clos has urged the national squad to use South African spirit to carry them to glory at this year’s Paris Olympics.

Le Clos was included in the South African team this week, and he was set to return for his fourth successive appearance at the quadrennial Games in July.

The veteran star raked in four medals (one gold and three silver) at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games, becoming the country’s most decorated Olympian, and while he didn’t earn a medal in Tokyo in 2021, he finished fifth in the 200m butterfly.

Chad le Clos
Chad le Clos in action at the SA Swimming Championships in Gqeberha last month. Picture: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

Now, at the age of 32, he is no longer among the medal favourites ahead of the Paris showpiece, but Le Clos said he looked forward to competing in what was likely to be his last Olympics.

“I remember back in London [at the age of 20] just seeing so much amazing talent around me, and to get that first cap was a huge honour,” Le Clos said, looking back on his memorable career.

“I think one of the biggest honours for me was carrying the flag at the opening ceremony in Tokyo. Unfortunately there was no crowd there (due to Covid) but for me it was one of the biggest moments not only of my career, but my life.”

‘South Africans are resilient’

In a message to athletes at the first of three Olympic team announcements this week, Le Clos urged the national squad to stand up and deliver on the international stage by taking motivation from other SA sports stars, including Olympic 200m breaststroke champion Tatjana Smith, the World Cup-winning Springbok rugby team and UFC middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis.

“As South Africans we are resilient. We showed it in the World Cup last year, we showed it with Dricus, we showed it with Tatjana’s win last time, and we’ve shown it over the years,” Le Clos said.

“We want to be the best we can be, so let’s put our heads down, show our hearts and finish with gees. Let’s go!”

Read more on these topics

Chad le Clos Olympic Games swimming