My golden moment

By admin
15 October 2010

Chad le Clos, SA’s new prince of the swimming pool, says winning his first Commonwealth Games gold medal – for the 200 m butterfly – was a dream come true. And he went on to win a second gold.

‘‘When I was on the podium and they played the national anthem I was close to tears.’’

Lounging at home in Pinetown, near Durban, he’s a far cry from the pumped-up 18-year-old who nervously warmed up before his races in New Delhi. ‘‘I was a blob of nervous energy before the butterfly final,’’ he admits.

‘‘When I touched the wall, looked up and saw my name I just went wild. It was huge for me. Everything I worked for, all the sacrifices, made sense at that moment.’’

His successes in the pool have been a welcome distraction for his mom, Geraldine, who is having treatment for breast cancer. She’s in the middle of a chemotherapy cycle, with three more sessions to go.

Chad, who’s in matric at Westville Boys’ High, has been swimming competitively since he was eight. He started competing in earnest when he turned 14 and chose swimming rather than rugby and soccer. Trained by former SA butterfly champ Graham Hill he shot up the junior rankings.

His break into the international senior arena was at the World Championships in Rome last year.

‘‘I finished 16th overall, which meant I was the 16th best swimmer in the world,’’ he says. ‘‘It was a huge boost for my confidence.’’

Back home after the Commonwealth Games he’s knuckling down to studying for matric finals.

‘‘It’s all about balance,’’ he says. ‘‘I concentrate on my swimming but pump the books over the weekend. And fortunately I have some very clever friends who are willing to lend a hand when I need it.’’

His career is moving upwards fast: swimwear company Arena has chosen him for Team Arena, the group of swimmers it sponsors.

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