Durban’s Olympic medallist Chad le Clos set a fine example for aspirant Olympians when he took to the water at Lahee Park on Friday afternoon to resume training, just hours after returning home from Rio.
Junior swimmers eagerly shook his hands in congratulations and in awe as Le Clos took to the pool to swim a few laps.
Le Clos won two silver medals, in the 200m freestyle and the 100m butterfly races, in Rio to add to his gold and silver from the London Olympics - giving him the distinction of having won more Olympic medals than any other South African.
But there’s no time to rest as he needs to prepare for the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup in Paris this week.
“It’s been a week now since my swim at Rio and I’ve had a bit of time to think about it and I am disappointed at not having won gold. It wasn’t what I wanted. I had worked hard and prepared myself to win two gold medals.
“There were errors I made. I don’t want to go into the reasons, but I am not making any excuses for myself.”
Le Clos faced off against the US’s Michael Phelps in the 200m, the event in which he beat his American rival in London four years ago.
The drama of their renewed encounter was heightened when Phelps was seen scowling at Le Clos before the race.
“Many people are going to talk about me and Phelps, but I don’t have much to say on that as I had done my best in London and won gold, and this time around I was preparing for another win and did not get it,” Le Clos said.
“I’m proud of my achievements and it is an accomplishment as we don’t have the best type of facilities compared with other parts of the world. For every cloud there is a silver lining,” he said, adding “pun intended”.
“I was able to come home and be with my family. It’s difficult being away from them, especially my parents with their health concerns. But we have to do what we can and deal with whatever life throws at you. Right now I am happy to be home.”
Le Clos’s father, Bert, has had surgery for prostate cancer and his mother, Geraldine, for breast cancer.
The family will have a party with friends on Saturday. Le Clos leaves for Paris next week.
“I will also spend a week in London and watch the Manchester United versus City game as I’ve been invited to the Sir Alex Ferguson box - I’m excited about that.”