Four-time Olympic medalist Chad Le Clos says he’ll be altering his event focus after this summer’s Tokyo Games.
Le Clos, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and two-time Long Course World Champion in the men’s 200 butterfly, told reporters he’s planning to turn his attention to the 100 freestyle over the gruelling fly event after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I haven’t swum the 100 free in about two years. Unfortunately at Nationals it always comes before the 200 fly, so today we’re gonna have a go at the dirty double,” Le Clos said after swimming a time of 49.41 at the CANA Grand Prix in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
“Obviously it’s a race I’m focusing on for the future. So after this Olympics that’s going to be my new race: 100 free, and 100 fly.”
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The 29-year-old South African has always put his primary focus on the 100 and 200 fly in major competition, having medalled in the 200 at four straight LC World Championships along with his Olympic gold medal from 2012. In the 100 fly, Le Clos has won back-to-back Olympic silver medals to go along with World Championship titles in 2013 and 2015, plus a bronze in 2019.
His only medal at either the Olympics or World Championships (LC) that came outside of those two events came in the 200 freestyle. At the 2016 Olympics, Le Clos surprised many by challenging for the gold medal from out in Lane 1, leading the field through the 150 before ultimately winning silver behind China’s Sun Yang.
In the 100 free, Le Clos tied with reigning Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers for silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – in what remains his personal best time of 48.15 – but other than that, he’s only really raced the event in-season.
In the short course pool, Le Clos has proven to be an elite 100 freestyler, breaking 46 seconds on four occasions, including winning bronze at the 2018 SC World Championships.
Le Clos’ final run in the 200 fly, then, will come this summer, where the race will seemingly be for silver behind Hungarian Kristof Milak. Milak’s world record time of 1:50.73 is over two seconds clear of Le Clos’ PB – his 1:52.96 from the 2012 Olympics. Le Clos has also only broken 1:55 twice since the beginning of 2018.
By the time the 2024 Olympics roll around, Le Clos will be 32.