GOLD COAST – South Africa’s Chad le Clos could become the most successful athlete in Commonwealth Games history when he takes the plunge in seven swimming events in Gold Coast starting next week.
The 25-year-old pin-up, a four-time world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medallist, is six medals behind shooters Mick Gault and Philip Adams, who lead the way with 18.
However, Englishman Gault and Australian Adams took six Games to reach 18 medals. Le Clos is aiming to do it in three, although he knows the odds are against him.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m looking for seven golds, because I’m not saying that at all,” said Le Clos, attempting to play down his chances as he contests the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly and 100m and 200m freestyle.
“I could come away with two or three medals and not seven – it’s a very real possibility because I’m in very tough events,” added the South African, who also goes in the 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relays.
“The 100m freestyle is stacked, and the 200m freestyle is stacked.
“The 100m and 200m fly will be very tough to win gold, but I should medal in those events and the 50m fly, I just hope for a good start.
“It could very easily be a great week, but 0.1 (seconds) could decide the two on either side of the podium.”
Le Clos shot to global fame at the 2012 London Olympics when he stunned swimming legend Michael Phelps by a fingertip to capture the gold medal in the 200m butterfly in one of the sport’s greatest upsets.
A double world champion in both the 100m and 200m butterfly, Le Clos also claimed surprise silver in the 200m freestyle to go with silver in the 100m fly at the Rio Olympics two years ago.
“I would do eight (events) if I could, but we don’t have a third relay,” said Le Clos.
“I’ll be very happy with two relay medals and five individual medals, and that will take me over the line for the most ever.”
While he faces stiff competition from the likes of Australian Olympic 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers, Le Clos backed himself to deliver in Gold Coast despite the added difficulty presented by an outdoor pool.
“I know a lot of people are worried about the weather or what might happen but for me, honestly, if it hails down, or if it’s 10 degrees, it doesn’t make any difference,” he said.
“I’m prepared for anything and that’s one thing I know. I may not be the best 100m or 200m freestyler in the field – but I’m the toughest for sure.”