Addicted to gold

2014-12-14 15:00

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Chad le Clos has enjoyed another stellar season in the pool this year, with a massive haul of medals from competitions across the world, smashing records and winning big prize money in the process.

He became the first man to be crowned the International Swimming Federation (Fina) best male swimmer for the third time.

“If I were to sum up 2014 in one word, I would say ‘magical’,” Le Clos told City Press this week.

“It was by far the best year – I won seven record-equalling Commonwealth Games medals, I was undefeated in 27 events during the Fina Swimming World Cup series, and last week I became the first man to win three butterfly events in a single edition of the championships [the Fina World Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar, last Sunday].”

Despite another medal-laden year that put him in the pound seats, South Africa’s golden boy says he is still hungry for more.

The Durban-born aquatic star is ranked number one by Fina in its list of top World Cup heroes, with 80 gold medals in the period under review between 1989 and 2014.

Last weekend he swam a new world record in the 100m butterfly, in a time of 48.44?seconds, en route to his hat-trick of gold medals at the Doha global meet.

Le Clos – who has been with his coach Graham Hill for 15 years – now holds both the 200m and 100m butterfly world short course records.

His feat in the Middle East nation meet – which included gold in the 200m freestyle – was the biggest medal haul by an individual South African swimmer at the event.

He surpassed the three gold medals won by the legendary Ryk Neethling at the 2006 edition in Shanghai, China.

“I don’t want to be a guy who won one or two races. There’s never complacency in the Le Clos camp. I want to continue being a role model for up-and-coming youngsters, and become a legend,” said Le Clos, who is a staunch Manchester United fan.

When he’s not making ripples in the pool, the Seagulls Swimming Club member’s life revolves around a Fifa game on his PlayStation and spending quality time with his family.

He still shares a home with his siblings and parents in Durban.

“I’m just a normal guy who excels in his profession. Being the best is not about Olympic medals. Greatness means trying your best at all times. There is honour in defeat.”

His father, Bert, revealed the reason for what keeps his famous son grounded despite his achievements.

“I always say to him: ‘My boy, you’re a human being after all.’”

To round off his magical year, Le Clos said he might use the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Championships in Durban this week “to say thanks for the support from the guys”.

He is already looking forward to a Christmas lunch with the family and going away on holiday with friends in Cape Town.

“We’ll do the preseason planning in January and more focus will be on Kazan 2015 [the Fina World Championships in Russia] in the build-up to the 2016 Olympics [in Rio de Janeiro].”

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