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Durban - As millions of South Africans celebrated Chad Le Clos’s remarkable gold medal last night, for a Durban primary and high school the win was extra special.
Pupils, parents, teachers and coaches at Penzance Primary and Westville Boys’ High for years had been telling people to watch out for Le Clos’s talent – last night the 20-year-old proved them right on the world’s biggest stage.
An elated, Trevor Hall, Westville principal, could hardly stop laughing when contacted last night.
Hall struggled to describe his emotions.
“Our 1 300 boys were all glued to their screens tonight... that’s for sure. This is one of my proudest moments and he really deserves it. He is honest, down-to-earth and very humble,” he said proudly.
Hall said the whole school would be at the airport to welcome Le Clos when he returns to South Africa.
“I am so proud that I cannot even begin to explain it,” he said.
Le Clos’s primary school coach, Lindsay Manthey, last night described the gold medal-winning swimmer’s success as the greatest moment in her teaching career.
“He has gone beyond our dreams and expectations. He was just incredible. I am so happy for him, his family and his coach.
“We were only expecting him to get the gold four years from now, so it is incredible,” she said.
“When he started swimming here, I realised that he was good. I told his parents to get him a professional coach. Chad was faster than the older children in swimming and he had an incredible determination and competitive spirit. He swam with his heart,” Manthey said.
This morning pupils at Penzance were expected to be wearing their special Chad Le Clos T-shirts at assembly.
Former Westville High old boy, Chad Hoe, also a swimmer, said he was delighted for Le Clos saying that he had trained really hard and deserved his success. “I just can’t wait for him to come home,” he added.
Last night Le Clos’s family and friends gathered at the Stella Sports Club in Glenwood to watch him take on Michael Phelps.
Le Clos’s sister, Bianca Matos, shed tears when he won. “I just need to tell South Africa that their boy did it. I am beyond excited,” she said.
Matos said that the win had left a permanent smile on her face.
“To tell you the truth, I honestly don’t know how I am going to sleep tonight. I am super proud of my brother,” she said.
His brother, Justin, said he was very emotional and very proud of his younger brother.
“Chad is such a humble young man and he has worked really hard to be where he is. I can tell you now that he won’t be a one-hit wonder. He is going far with his career. He is such a blessing,” he said.
Le Clos’s uncle, Rob, said a big celebration was on its way when Le Clos arrived in the country.
“Our family is huge so it will be a party indeed. He is such a humble youngster and that’s what makes him so special,” he said. - Daily News