Excitement is already building for what could be a high-octane 100m fly showdown between South African Chad Le Clos and Singaporean Joseph Schooling at next year’s Commonwealth Games.
The Gold Coast, Australia will set the stage for the 2018 edition of the Games, which could pit the 2014 Commonwealth gold medalist Le Clos and 2014 silver medalist Schooling against one another on yet another intense international competitive stage.
Schooling earned Singapore’s first-ever Summer Olympic gold medal by winning the 100m fly event in Rio, while Le Clos settled for a 3-way tie for silver there along with American icon Michael Phelps and prolific Hungarian medalist Laszlo Cseh. Le Clos became 200m butterfly world champion in Budapest, however, where ran away with the title unchallenged by the stud from Singapore. Schooling faltered in some spectators’ eyes, winding up 5th in the 50m fly and tying a relative newcomer-to-fly-events, James Guy of GBR in that 100m.
While Schooling chips away at his senior year season competing for the University of Texas, red-hot Le Clos made major waves competing across the FINA World Cup circuit. The 25-year-old became the first man ever to clinch 4 World Cup titles, giving South Africa its 7th overall. With the feeling of being on top of the world to some degree, Le Clos told The Strait Times this week that he is relishing the opportunity to be challenged by Schooling again at the Commonwealth Games.
“What he [Schooling] did last year was unbelievable but I love the competition, I love to race against the best,” said Le Clos. “That [100 fly] will probably be the biggest race of the Games. We’ve also got James Guy swimming exceptionally quick and, of course, I want to win.
“But you know, if Joseph goes under 48sec for the fly, I’m not going to beat him. So I can only control what I can control and get myself in the best shape to try and win.”
However, the question still remains as to whether or not Schooling will even be present at the Games. The 2018 Men’s NCAA Championship meet spans March 21st through March 24th in Minnesota, while the swimming competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games is set for April 4th – 9th.
With such a tight turnaround, Schooling told SwimSwam today that he “will be making his decision closer to NCAAs, as to whether or not he’ll be at the Commonwealth Games.” Such a response leaves Le Clos, Guy and any other would-be contender in the dark on who may occupy the center lane come that 100m fly final in Australia.