Le Clos Works To Tone Down Phelps Trash Talk

In an effort to clear the air in terms of the rift between South Africa Olympic gold medalist Chad Le Clos and American Olympic icon Michael Phelps, Le Clos chatted with  Sport360° this week upon his arrival in Dubai for the final stop of the 2015 World Cup Series.

Related to his infamous “Phelps can keep quiet now” quote, Le Clos explains to Sport360° that “They asked me a question about Michael Phelps, he was saying some stuff about me that wasn’t very nice and I felt a bit hurt.” Trying to frame up the intention of his remark in Kazan, Le Clos further clarified that, “I didn’t want to fire back, it wasn’t like that. They just said to me ‘how do you feel about Michael saying the butterfly events are slow?’ and I said ‘look, I’ve just done a time he hasn’t done for four years and the time speaks for itself’. Then the headline was ‘Chad Le Clos tells everybody to shut up’ and then he comes along and says ‘I’ve done with trash talkers before…”

Offering further insight into just how the South African views Phelps, a swimmer who has been dominant in the pool with 22 Olympic medals, but somewhat controversial out of the pool with his 2 DUI arrests, Le Clos dissects his opinion of the American.  Says Le Clos “Firstly you must listen to what I’m saying, I didn’t slate you, I’ve always said he’s the greatest of all time, I don’t take that away from him. He’s my idol. Maybe not… I look up to him in swimming terms, that’s it. But if I was as great as he was, I would conduct myself in a way children would be proud of.”

“I think people that watch me – obviously I get angry and I say some silly stuff sometimes – but you must conduct yourself in a way that other people can look up to. That’s what defines a champion, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, how many gold medals you have, you must be a true champion and I pride myself on being that, the people’s champion.”

Le Clos restated what he told the BBC last month, that he is absolutely “not afraid of Michael Phelps.” From his point of view, Le Clos feels he is “not taunting anybody. I said before that I hope he’s in good form because I want to race the best and I’m not afraid to face him one on one.”

Reflecting on his overall performance in Kazan this summer, Le Clos says, “I’m definitely not satisfied. It was a difficult World Champs for me, obviously losing the 200 fly was an eye-opener. It was my first defeat in three years, it was hard for me to take,” Le Clos said. “There’s many things I could have done differently, but you know I don’t make excuses, you win or you lose. There are many reasons why I never won that race but it’s not for me to say. It takes credit away from Laszlo who was the champion.”

Looking ahead past Dubai, Le Clos gauges his preparedness at 80% at this point in time and knows what he needs to do to be “the best Chad Le Clos” that he can. However, if he does indeed lose in Rio, expect no excuses to come from the feisty athlete. “If you look at all these other guys that make excuses when they lose ‘I had a bad start, I had a bad turn’… come on, what is this? Are we children? Didn’t your parents teach you not to say that?. I know where I am and I know who I am so I don’t need any of those guys to like me.”

Ultimately, Le Clos points to the greatest Olympian of all time as to why he even targeted butterfly as his main event. “There’s no secret why I swam butterfly, it’s because of Michael Phelps,” says Le Clos.

Ever confident, Le Clos takes pride in his work ethic and mental ferocity, saying “I want to beat the best or I want to lose to the best. I’m not going to go look for the easy route like everyone else does. For me it’s about the race, it’s not about the time, it’s not about anything else, it’s about winning that gold medal in the moment. So I believe that on the day I could beat anybody.”

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Caitlin Garrison
6 years ago

What Phelps said: “It’s interesting watching the world in this event. If you look at what Malchow won in 2000, still what everyone is going nowadays. It’s really not that fast of an event. We would do a thing where we would count how many times Malchow would go 1:55. It was something like 25 times. There aren’t that many people in the world that can break 1:55.”

Caitlin Garrison
6 years ago

Is this guy 12? Perhaps LeClos needs to let this go before it looks worse and worse. This interview did nothing to tone anything down. He “didn’t want to fire back”; about WHAT exactly? Phelps never said anything about LeClos, so I am not sure why he is hurt. He stated the 200 fly time is pretty much what everyone is going nowadays since Malchow. So? How is that hurtful? From that one comment LeClos manages to tell Phelps to be quiet, make a remark about Phelps 100fly time (Phelps commented on the 200fly), then he suggests that Phelps does not conduct himself in a “manner that children would be proud of” which is a shot at his rehab stint.… Read more »

floppy
6 years ago

This is Chad LeClos trying to TONE DOWN the trash-talk? I get that people can come across differently in interviews, but he sounds insufferably conceited.

“But if I was as great as he was, I would conduct myself in a way children would be proud of.”

“I’m not going to go look for the easy route like everyone else does.”

“If you look at all these other guys that make excuses when they lose ‘I had a bad start, I had a bad turn’… come on, what is this? Are we children? Didn’t your parents teach you not to say that?”

“There are many reasons why I never won that race but it’s not for me to say.”

“That’s what… Read more »

Aquabullet
6 years ago

This ‘role model for kids’ that was so fall down drunk in a club in South Africa in 2013 (after the country’s national championships) that he tried to start a fight and was forcefully removed from the establishment he was in?

Words and actions are 2 very different things….

Caitlin Garrison
Reply to  Aquabullet
6 years ago

Really? Then in addition to petulant child he is a hypocrite too.

Billabong
6 years ago

The two fly races will be incredible to watch, and the odds favour the younger man. If that turns out to be the case, let’s hope that Chad is a gracious victor, and that MP is as magnanimous as he was in 2012. After all, the Olympics is defined by good sportsmanship.

Froggy
Reply to  Billabong
6 years ago

Rio will have two huge duals with men’s butterfly. I predict Le Clos victory on 200m butterfly but for 100m, hard to say. All those bla bla bla about what was said or interpreted is not so interesting. Phelps and Le Clos are great swimmers and they both deserve respect.

Pvk
6 years ago

The asskicking will be severe.

SwimBreaststroke13
6 years ago

Going back to the article about Ian Thorpe and Chad getting together sometime, they should also have a weekly book club with Lazlo Czeh, Ryan Lochte, Milorad Cavic, and Alain Bernard.?No offense to the swimmers I just stated, as I idolize all of them, but it’s hilarious how much MP snack talk that’s thrown around these days

afodi
Reply to  SwimBreaststroke13
6 years ago

Actually it is László Cseh, but I can settle with Laszlo Cseh.

Sportinindc
6 years ago

Officially the last article I will ever read that he is quoted in.

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Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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