Le Clos: “I Am Not Afraid Of Michael Phelps”

The swimming community was fired up over the summer when South African Olympic gold medalist Chad Le Clos spoke out comparing his performances at the 2015 FINA World Championships to that of 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps at U.S. Nationals.

After his 100m butterfly gold in Kazan at World Championships, Le Clos commented that  “Michael Phelps has been talking about how slow the butterfly events have been recently. I just did a time he hasn’t done in four years. So he can keep quiet now.”  However, Phelps’ in-pool response in San Antonio was that of a world-best 50.45 100 butterfly, further adding fuel to the intense rivalry that, if all goes according to plan, will come to a head in Rio come the 2016 Olympics.

Now several weeks removed from the cross-fire, Le Clos talked to the BBC about his admiration and respect for Phelps, the man who was once his childhood hero, only to turn into his biggest international rival.

You can listen to the 2-minute-clip here: Chad Le Clos Talks To BBC

Looking at the 18-time gold medalist’s achievements over the summer, Le Clos says in the audio clip that he didn’t expect Phelps to come back that fast that quickly, saying it was “a big shock.” He further says he’s excited to go after the gold medal in Rio, saying the goal represents being the best in the world at that moment.  Le Clos equates the potential head-to-head 100m and 200m butterfly races to a ‘heavyweight title fight.’

Bert Le Clos, Chad’s father, also chimes in that the tables are somewhat turned on his son.  Now that he is the reigning world champion, the target is on his back and the pressure is only mounting. Nonetheless, Le Clos makes it clear in the interview that he’s up for the challenge and ready to handle that pressure, flat-out stating, “I am not afraid of Michael Phelps.”

‘Phelps Phans’ will no doubt be clinging to their #1 swimmer’s famous comment at Nationals in San Antonio, when Phelps said,  “I mean, I can do whatever I put my mind to. And this next year is going to be pretty damn fun.”


In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Displaced Wolverine
5 years ago

Why? What was the purpose of saying that? Phelps has never said anything about Le Clos outside of the fact that he acknowledged what Le Clos had said.

Reply to  Displaced Wolverine
5 years ago

because he actually is afraid.

Caitlin Garrison
Reply to  Displaced Wolverine
5 years ago

He was probably asked that in some form or another. That’s all. No biggie

5 years ago

I feel like if you want to be able to beat phelps you cant be afraid of him. thats a given.

that being said. next year will be sweet. Reminds me alot of cavic vs phelps, except cavic talked alot more.

Reply to  mcmflyguy
5 years ago

I won’t try and pretend like I’m a sports psychologist and know whether or not this talking helps….but I’ll say that I agree with you mcmflyguy – it sure is fun to watch!

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  mcmflyguy
5 years ago

We’ll see how much more talking Le Clos does in the next year, though. It ain’t over yet…

5 years ago

Mr. Le Clos wants to win. If he was to get on the blocks and be afraid of his key rival, he would’ve already lost. For his chances and sanity, he absolutely shouldn’t be afraid. That doesn’t mean he’ll win and I’ll put my money on Mr. Phelps. I, for one, love this public tete-a-tete between Phelps and Le Clos. Swimming needs more of these public rivalries like you get in tennis, for example, with the Djokovic – Nadal – Federer trio. Each of those guys is respectful of the other, but confident of their own abilities. This creates more human interest outside of the hardcore swim fans. I’d like to see a little more trash-talking to generate broader interest… Read more »

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

Read More »