JOHANNESBURG – A year ago Chad le Clos only had eyes for gold but he has since had a new perspective on life as he looks to rekindle the spirit of the swimmer he was before he won the 200m butterfly at the London 2012 Games.
Shortly after the Rio Games, Le Clos was bitterly disappointed with returning to South Africa with the 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly silver medals instead of gold in his bag.
“I said I would be disappointed if I didn't win it in Rio, and the bottom line is I came back with two silvers, and if think back, 10 years ago, three silvers and a gold is not such a bad result at two Olympics,” Le Clos said in Durban on Monday.
“That is how I’m going to approach my races from now on, like I did before 2012, I’m looking forward to the events and I will always try to win.”
Le Clos said he had reinvigorated his career after the Rio Games having split from long-time mentor Graham Hill, and moving to Cape Town where he launched the Chad le Clos Academy.
“Before everything happened, 2012 and stuff, I was always talking about being the best I can be and not always talking about getting the gold medal,” he said.
“Getting a medal is hard at world champs, getting a gold medal at the Olympics is difficult, and you talk about it like it is nothing.”
On the opening night of the South African Swimming Championships in Durban on Monday, Le Clos posted a world 100m freestyle qualifying time when he clocked a time of 48.64 seconds in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
While he had the 100m freestyle qualifying time in the bag, he was unlikely to add it to his repertoire at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
"The 200m free, 200m fly and the 100m fly will be the main ones. I’m just happy to get the times with what is most important," Le Clos said.
“I think the Commonwealth Games is the 100m free for me, I will hopefully challenge the big boys there, that will be like the Olympic lineup with the Olympic champion.”
During Tuesday’s morning heats Le Clos advanced to the evening’s semi-final in the 200m freestyle winning his heat in a time of 1:53.34 seconds with fellow Rio Olympian Myles Brown clocking the fastest time touching the wall in 1:51.34.
Mariella Venter, who represents one of the country’s best chances of getting a female swimmer to the world championships, looked comfortable during her 100m backstroke heat.
Posting the fastest time of the heats, clocking 1:02.02. Venter was confident she would be able to dip below the world qualifying time.
“I’m hoping to go a minute-lower. I am definitely trying to qualify for senior worlds, just trying to get the times I swam at last year’s seniors,” Venter said.
“I’m definitely looking to go to junior world championships where I would stand a chance of winning a medal.”
Venter will be looking to improved on her personal best of 1:00.98 to dip below the A-qualifying time of 1.00.61.