On the morning after the night before, Oscar Pistorius bumped into Chad le Clos, the Olympic 200m butterfly champion, in the Olympic Village. His neck was adorned with the biggest prize in sport.
“I saw him in the lift this morning on the way here. He had his medal around his neck, so I got to hold it and look at it,” Pistorius said.
“I said to him, ‘Where are you going?’. He said, ‘I’m going to the dining hall.’ I said, ‘Are you going to take the medal off? He said ‘I haven’t taken it off since yesterday’!
“He had slept with it around his neck. I don’t know what’s going to happen when he competes in other events. He’s probably going to have to swim with it strapped to his back or something.”
Yesterday morning, Le Clos had barely had time to come to terms with what he had achieved.
He had just swum in the 200m individual medley and qualified for the semi-finals and was struggling. “I was hurting, oh my gosh, that was hard,” he said.
“I got to bed at like 2.30am, and I only got in the room at 2am. Leith (Shankland) and Gideon (Louw) were up waiting for me and gave me a small cheering-on party. It wasn’t very long because I had to wake up this morning and face reality, and come and race again.”
He said the realisation that he was an Olympic gold medallist and had beaten the most successful Olympian ever – Michael Phelps – in the 200m butterfly was still sinking in.
“It’s still like a dream for me because I never thought it would happen so soon and it has happened so quickly. It’s almost like you’ve won the lottery and you don’t expect to. I’m just proud of that and I’ll cherish it forever.”
The medal will remain around his neck for as long as he can bear it, which, from the sounds of things, is a long time.
He confirmed what he had told Pistorius: “I haven’t taken it off. I had to take it off to race, but that’s about it. I slept with it,” he grinned.
Le Clos’s father Bert became an internet celebrity on Tuesday night after he gave an interview with the BBC that was repeated on the national channel again yesterday.
Bert bubbled over and even managed to slip in a little F-bomb during the live broadcast before apologising.
The host of the show told him not to worry about it.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable. It’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven,” Bert said.
“Whatever happens in my life now is plain sailing. I’m so proud of him. He’s committed like you cannot believe, so humble.”
Chad said: “I can only imagine how my dad reacted, he has always gone crazy. Even back home in South Africa he has always been such a, well, cry baby. It was awesome to have him in my corner.”
Pistorius said the golds by Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh had lifted the spirit of Team South Africa. “We’ve had phenomenal athletes in the past. Sometimes athletes have struggled coming into Olympics, but we’re on the up. Chad did a phenomenal job as the youngster on the team.
“He stepped up and I don’t think many people in the world expected him to pip Phelps like that.
“We’re very proud of him. Having an athlete like that on our team really raises morale. It makes me very proud to be part of a team where athletes step up.”
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