SA’s new wunderkind

2010-10-10 16:02

There are a few things one expects to hear from the mouth of a Commonwealth Games champion.

The words: “I don’t know how I passed that Science test the other day,” isn’t one of them.

Meet Chad Guy Detrand le Clos. Two-time Commonwealth Games champion, new wunderkind of South African swimming and according to all predictions, a future world champion.

But with the waves of the Commonwealth games still for now, the 18-year-old Durbanite is taking on a more regular title: matric pupil.

Le Clos made himself known in the land of his birth with a bang this week, when he won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.

After his success in the 200m butterfly on Monday a few of his compatriots asked: “Chad who?”

By the time he won the 400m individual medley on Wednesday by more than two seconds, his name was familiar to South Africans and swimming commentators.

But while his country can bask in the glory of the success of the teenage star, it’s back to reality for Le Clos.

He starts writing his matric exams in two weeks – just one more milestone he will reach in an already huge 2010.

“I considered doing my matric over two years, because this was such a big year in the pool, with the Youth Olympics, Mare Nostrum and the Commonwealth Games, but in the end I decided to take the bull by the horns and finish school this year.

“It was hard, but luckily my schoolwork didn’t really suffer. “I’m just not sure how I passed my Science test the other day,” says the Westville High pupil.

Le Clos is the third of four children and describes his family as very close. It was a big week for the Le Clos family. On the day he had his first Commonwealth Games success, his older brother became a father for the first time.

Le Clos can’t wait to meet the new addition to the family.

The unusual surname, he explains, is due to his French heritage. His dad grew up in Mauritius and speaks French fluently.

But not everything is going smoothly for the 18-year-old.

His mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoes chemotherapy twice a week.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” he says, “but she’s doing much better.”

In addition to his success in New Delhi, Le Clos stood out at the Junior Olympics in Singapore, where he won one gold and three silver medals. He wasn’t very happy about that.

“It was actually quite disappointing that I didn’t win more gold medals, but making up for it at the biggest event of my year totally compensates.”

The future looks bright for the new star.

It isn’t the way he reacts to his glory that convinces one. It’s his reaction to the disappointing result in Friday’s 200m individual medley, where he came fifth.

“It wasn’t good enough,” he said. “That’s all. No excuses.”

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