London – The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) confirmed on Thursday morning that swimming sensation Chad le Clos has been withdrawn from Thursday night's men's 200m individual medley (IM) final at the London Olympic Games.
South African swimming team manager Shaun Adriaanse said Le Clos had withdrawn to allow himself more time to focus on the 100m butterfly event, his specialist stroke.
“We want Chad to concentrate on the 100m butterfly heats and semi-finals on Thursday and he will also be a part of the 4x100m medley relay on Saturday,” Adriaanse said.
Le Clos advanced to the final of the men's 200m IM by the skin of his teeth the night before, finishing joint seventh with a time of 1:58.49.
After his race on Wednesday night, Le Clos said his only realistic chance of winning a medal had always been the 200m butterfly.
“The 200m fly was my only real chance on paper. The 100m fly will be a lot tougher as it is shorter,” Le Clos said.
“The bigger guys will be a lot more explosive than me.
“I will give them a run for their money and I won't just let them beat me.”
Le Clos won the country's second gold medal of the Games when he edged United States swimmer Michael Phelps in the men's 200m butterfly final on Tuesday.
“I didn't think I was going to make it. I was so scared,” Le Clos said.
“My breaststroke has been very shaky for the last few years, but it has come right, not for the 200m, but more for the 400m IM,” he said.
“I don't know if I can get my breaststroke down to challenge Ryan Lochte and Phelps, because they are splitting 33s and I am splitting 35s.”
Le Clos jokingly said he had been carrying his gold medal on him since he beat Phelps to the wall.
“I haven't taken it off, I'm still wearing it,” Le Clos said.
“I was actually getting a little bit sore walking around with it in the village, because it was knocking me and it was heavy.
“I got the box finally and I've given it to my coach and he's got it locked up somewhere.
“I did sleep with it last night (Tuesday) definitely, otherwise I couldn't sleep.”
Le Clos said he was physically drained after all the excitement of the night before and he could not shut an eye.
He said he only got into bed at 3.30am and woke again at 6am.
“Physically, this whole day has been tiring, the late night, no rest,” he said.
“My best friend Leith (Shankland) was waiting for me. He gave me a huge hug and showed me all the videos and my dad's interview.
“It was a crazy night. I wish I could relive that moment.”
Meanwhile, Suzaan van Biljon became the first South African woman to progress to the final in the swimming pool at the London Games.
Van Biljon advanced in style as she beat Penny Heyn's South African record of 2:23.64 in the women's 200m breaststroke semi-final.
The 24-year-old finished third in her semi-final in a time of 2:23.21 to secure a berth in the final.
She was elated by her performance and said she was reluctant to expect too much of herself in the final.
“My motto in swimming is to not expect anything,” Van Biljon said.
“If you expect too much I think the disappointment is so much more and if you expect nothing and something happens you get lucky and you are really surprised.” – Sapa