Durban - There were no words to describe the euphoria of Chad le Clos’s family and over a hundred fans last night when the Durban swimming star beat the odds to win the men’s 200m butterfly race by a split second and give SA its second gold medal of the Olympic Games.
Chad’s older brother Justin and sister, Bianca Matos, along with extended family and friends, all in supporters’ T-shirts were at the Stella Sports Club in the Durban suburb of Glenwood to watch his race. Chad’s little brother Jordan, 14, was with his parents Geraldine and Bert at the Olympics.
There wasn’t a dry eye at Stella when Chad appeared on the television screen. The tears flowed when the race started, accompanied by screams and cheers when it became clear that he stood a fighting chance.
The final few seconds had everyone on their feet, jumping and pushing the swimmer to the finish – and, in an instant, it was over and the noise was deafening. The family could barely speak, they were so overcome with emotion.
Matos described the feeling as “insane”, and said the support from across the world was overwhelming. “It has been an emotional day, we are so proud of him and we are not going to sleep tonight.”
She said they could not wait to see her brother at the airport and give him a big hug. The family designed supporter’s T-shirts when Chad qualified for the Olympics in April.
“In the run-up to his events in London there were so many requests for the T-shirts that we made for all shapes and sizes, even for toddlers.”
“My dad joked that if Chad won a gold, we would double the price of the T-shirts,” she said.
The atmosphere in the club was electric with everyone telling a story of how they were linked to the swimming star.
Chad’s brother Justin, 28, paced outside before the event. He joked and made little conversation, but his nerves were clearly overwhelming him. After the race he said it was an unbelievable moment for the family and the country.
“He has the heart of a lion, anyone would have been as nervous as ever seeing Michael Phelps’ performance in the semi-final. But Chad focused, this was his dream. He lived his life for this moment and he achieved it.”