Six months after the 2016 Olympic Games, two-time silver medalist in Rio, South African Chad Le Clos still has nightmares over the men’s 200m butterfly final. Having struck gold at the 2012 edition of the Games in London, beating swimming hero, American Michael Phelps, Le Clos badly wanted to claim a 2nd title in the event, silencing Phelps fans ecstatic with the legend’s comeback.
However, another gold in the 200m fly was not to be in Rio, as Le Clos was relegated to 4th place, whereas Phelps clinched the gold and would go on to finish with a total of 28 Olympic medals by the end of his campaign. Le Clos now seeks victory in the 200m butterfly badly, starting with this year’s World Championships in Budapest.
“I want to win that 200m fly badly. I am training for that and will hopefully win gold this year. So that is my goal,” said Le Clos to Independent Online South Africa.
“I want it that bad. I just want Phelps to come back. I’ve had nightmares about that. I wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat over that race.”
Although Phelps has reiterated on multiple occasions that he is indeed retired for good, Le Clos has enlisted a new squad to help in his quest for butterfly dominance. Le Clos has now set-up camp in Cape Town under guidance of Andrea di Nino and Bobby Hurley and is also affiliated with the Energy Standard Club under James Gibson in Turkey.
Le Clos describes his new training approach as ‘very technical.’ “I’ve learned a lot about my technique and stroke over the past month. I’m still pumping the mileage.
“Everyone has a similar approach by the way you structure it. I’ve done a lot of techniques, a lot of new stuff.
“It has been a positive change, I’m happy with everything and we will obviously see how the results go. It is still early days.”
The 24-year-old kicked off 2017 with a victory in the men’s 100m butterfly in Durban (52.20) and plans on competing in the 200m butterfly race at the final Grand Prix stop in Stellenbosch this weekend. He’ll need to notch a time in the 1:54-low range to knock off Japan’s Masato Sakai as the world leader in the event headed into World Championships-qualifying season. Japanese Olympic bronze medalist in the men’s 400m IM, Daiya Seto, looks primed to rival Sakai and Le Clos for the 200m title in Budapest, with the host nation’s Laszlo Cseh and Tamas Kenderesi no doubt also vying for a home crowd-fueled gold in the event.
Staying cool, collected and in the present, Le Clos says, “I’m not too worried about the times now. Last year I was obsessed about swimming fast all the time. I went fast but I am not going to get over-amped about it.
“I’ve had some good blocks of training. Stellenbosch would be a good gauge for me.”