South African butterflyer Chad le Clos called his 4th-place 200 fly finish “the worst performance of my career,” expressing his disappointment while speaking of his respect for gold medalist Michael Phelps.
“I don’t know what to say. I am in good shape, there is no reason for me to swim that slow,” he said.
“I said before I started, there is a possibility I could come in and get two golds, two silvers, two fourths. I stand by what I said. I am in the best shape of my life, so no excuses, we have to do better. We have to do a lot better.
“It’s the worst performance of my career. There will never be another worse performance in that event, doesn’t matter what I have to do. But like my dad said, ‘We don’t cry for losing, we cry for winning’. As much as I wanted to cry – I really did, I must be honest – I didn’t. I said to myself, ‘Worse things have happened to me this year’. This is not even the fifth worst thing that’s happened to me in the last few months.
“In my mind I was winning. I was so winning. Ten metres to go, I was winning and then my body just wasn’t going. What’s going on? It was the first time in my life that it was like this.
“I wanted to just race in the final. If I come second and my best time, c’est la vie, nothing you can do, but to lose on the 1:54.0 is disgraceful from my side. I’m not the kind of guy that accepts defeat like this on this kind of level.”
Le Clos also talked about beating Phelps in this race back in 2012, and reiterated his respect for the most decorated Olympian of all-time. The rivalry between Phelps and le Clos garnered a lot of fan and media attention over the days leading up to the 200 fly final, but Le Clos said Phelps is still in many ways his swimming idol:
“Maybe that’s the reason I was able to beat him because I’ve never feared anybody and I still don’t,” le Clos said. “I have much respect for him. He always, in many ways, will be my idol.”