South African Chad Le Clos has made it clear he’s gunning for a Commonwealth Games medal record, striving to exceed the 18 medals held each by English shooter Mick Gault and Australian shooter Philip Adams.
“The Commonwealth [Games] are very important to me. I am seven medals (away) from the all-time record,” we reported Le Clos said earlier this month. “If I can get seven medals I will become the most decorated of all time at the Commonwealth Games.”
However, the Olympian will need help from his teammates to tackle the challenge, as his outcome relies heavily on South Africa’s relay results on the Gold Coast, Australia come this April.
Speaking to Times Live this week, 25-year-old Le Clos says he is ‘pretty upset’ that his nation’s selection criteria for the Games prohibits non-Trials competitors from being selected for the prestigious international competition. The very first bullet of the Swimming South Africa criteria states, “to be eligible for squad selection, swimmers must participate at the 2017 KZNA Provincial Championships, taking place at the Kings Park Swimming Pool, Durban from 16 – 21 December 2017.”
However, notable performers were absent from the aforementioned meet due to commitments abroad. Although Le Clos didn’t specifically name any one individual, both backstroker Christopher Reid and freestyle sprinter Zane Waddell compete for the University of Alabama stateside and were left off of the 23-strong roster for the Gold Coast.
“There were guys who weren’t selected for the team which I’m pretty upset about‚” Le Clos said this week. “I don’t want to mention any names … there were some guys I asked to go on the team. Some of the guys couldn’t make trials because they were studying overseas.”
In the interest of giving South Africa the best shot at earning medals in the relays, and to fuel his desire to make Games medal history, Le Clos believes that swimmers from smaller nations like his own should be given automatic berth in the interest of overall medal count.
“Everyone’s always about the medals‚ they always want to talk about the medals and the performances‚ but now when we have the opportunity,” said Le Clos.
“We’re challenging for gold in that medley relay‚” said Le Clos, who will be joined by teammate Cameron van der Burgh on the breaststroke leg. “On paper‚ we’re the best middle [200m] in the world”.
Le Clos continued, “We always step up in the relays. For us not to be taking our best team‚ which will give us such a good shot‚ it’s sad.
“Maybe I’m being selfish‚ but my legacy is on the line here. But when I get six [more] medals‚ I’m the best ever at 25 years old. Three Games. I want to be the best ever in the Commonwealth‚ I want to be one of the best-ever Olympians.
“I’m working towards that every day‚ I’m training for that. For me to be shut down‚ because it’s something that could have been there‚ it’s [sad],” Le Clos said.
SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) President Gideon Sam, who set a goal for South Africa to finish at least 5th in the overall Commonwealth Games medal table, is reportedly ‘looking into the matter.’ (Times Live)
In the meantime, Le Clos is making noise, even offering to help finance his unselected teammates’ journey down under. “I’ll even go as far to say I’ll raise the money‚ I’ll pay for them to come‚” said Le Clos.
“I’ve spoken to them. They’re happy to stay outside the village. They’d be happy to compete in just the relays.”
As a refresher, below are the athletes comprising the South African roster for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Women: Erin Gallagher, Tatjana Schoenmaker, Dune Coetzee, Kate Beavon, Kaylene Corbett, Emily Visagie, Marlies Ross, Nathania van Niekerk, Kristin Bellingan, Mariella Venter and Emma Chelius
Men: Ayrton Sweeney, Cameron van der Burgh, Chad le Clos, Jarryd Baxter, Brad Tandy, Brent Szurdoki, Martin Binedell, Ryan Coetzee, Eben Vorster, Luan Grobbelaar, Calvyn Justus and Michael Houlie.
Para swimming: Christian Sadie, Kaleb van der Merwe
Diving: Nicole Gillis, Micaela Bouter, Julia Vincent