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Pretoria - South Africa was overcome with emotion when 20-year-old Durbanite Chad le Clos scooped a second gold medal for South Africa at the Olympic Games in London, the Presidency said on Wednesday.
“The South African nation is today filled with pride and joy,” said spokesman Mac Maharaj.
“Our Chad and all of us were overcome by emotion as he stood majestically to receive his medal, to the moving sound of our national anthem.”
He described Le Clos as one of the country's finest athletes.
“We say to the rainbow team, keep the medals coming,” said Maharaj.
Le Clos dethroned the mighty Michael Phelps in the men's 200m butterfly final on Tuesday. Phelps was trumped in his specialist event, the night he became the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning his 19th Olympic medal.
Le Clos described how he pretended to be Phelps - his childhood hero - over the final lap to win his first Olympic gold medal.
“Watching all of Michael's races, I knew he finished strong and he used his last underwater 1/8turn 3/8 to his advantage,” Le Clos said.
“It sounds crazy but I actually thought I was Michael (on) that last turn, I just remembered how he did it. When I turned, I looked at him, and it was like a trigger point where I just felt I could try and do something special here.”
The African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as the province's sport and recreation MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, congratulated the youngster on his win.
“His drive to succeed in becoming a world illustrious (sic) sports person has without uncertainty made him a role model for our young people,” the ANC said in a statement.
“We have no doubt that more South African athletes will collect medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games.”
Sibhidla-Saphetha said Le Clos had given a proud performance.
“He has demonstrated to other South African athletes that nothing is impossible.”
The Inkatha Freedom Party Youth Brigade also praised the athlete's performance.
“This win is a great achievement not only for Le Clos, but also for South African sports as a whole, because we have shown that we can compete with the best in the world and emerge victorious,” said the brigade's national chairman Mkhuleko Hlengwa in a statement. - Sapa