Bert le clos: my son will be huge in 2016 Rio de Janeiro olympics

2012-08-17 00:00

CHAD le Clos’s father, Bert, said yesterday his superstar son had been overwhelmed by the support of South Africans since his sensational London Olympics.

“The homeless, street cleaners and car guards, they have been some of the people who have embraced my son,” he said.

Bert said he believed Chad would be a “huge” prospect for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

He spoke to The Witness during the SA Short Course Swimming Championships being held at the GC Jolliffe swimming baths in Pine Street, Pietermaritzburg.

His son had just won the 200 metres freestyle, pipping a member of South Africa’s gold-medal relay team in the Athens Olympics, Darian Townsend.

Speaking about the moment when his son beat Olympic legend Michael Phelps to claim gold in the 200 metres butterfly, Bert said: “From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see. Nearing the finish, I knew he was either first, second or third. We would have been happy with the bronze.”

During the 100 metres butterfly he had a better seat to see Chad come from “stone last” to claim silver behind Phelps.

He felt Chad could again have beaten the man dubbed the greatest Olympian of all time.

“But we can’t complain with the silver. It’s the Olympics.”

Bert said the family had always thought that Chad would one day become a great swimmer.

“I always believed it. That’s why he didn’t go to university after school. That’s why he started swimming,” he said.

Among the crowd who had come to see the Olympic hero were James Murray (10) and Emily Vermaak (nine), both from Cowan House School.

James, who specialises in the backstroke, said he hoped to follow in Chad’s footsteps and win a gold medal at the Olympics one day. “I’ve dreamt about it since I was in Grade 1,” he said.

Emily, who was also excited at seeing her hero, said freestyle and butterfly were her favourite strokes, and she hoped to learn from the older swimmers who were competing in the championships.

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