Beating Phelps was destiny – Le Clos

2012-08-30 13:15

Beating US swimmer Michael Phelps was his destiny, 200m butterfly Olympic gold winner Chad Le Clos has said.

“There are many ways of thinking about how I won that gold, and when I watch that race, even now I also shed a tear thinking about what went into that race and what it meant to me,” the 20-year-old said at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg today.

“Eight years ago when I was a 12-year-old boy who looked up to Michael Phelps as a hero, or more like a god, I didn’t think I’d be up here talking about beating him. My coach Graham Hill and I call it destiny.”

Le Clos was brought on stage as a surprise guest during an address by University of Cape Town sports professor Tim Noakes.

Le Clos was greeted with a standing ovation as footage of his victory played on the hall’s screens.

Noakes replaced Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the summit when the latter dropped out at the 11th-hour in protest at former British prime minister Tony Blair’s attendance.

Le Clos said he studied Phelps’s swims to find a way to beat him. “I’ve played Michael’s swims since 2004, and I’d like to say I fell in love with him.

“Not like that (romantically). Ladies are my thing,” he quipped.

“We studied every single race. I had to beat him at his own game.”

Noakes said earlier that most athletes won because of a psychological advantage.

“They believed and visualised that they could win, and had the help of good coaches who urged them on”.

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