- South African swimmer Chad le Clos says that flying the flag high for his country at the Tokyo Olympics is a tremendous honour.
- Le Clos will be one of South Africa's two flag bearers at Friday's Olympics opening ceremony.
- Speaking to Sport24, Le Clos says he is humbled by the opportunity, adding that it almost feels like another gold medal.
Olympic superstar Chad le Clos is humbled and honoured to be flying the South African flag at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.
Le Clos was unveiled as Team SA's flag bearer along with women's hockey goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande for Friday's no-spectators opening ceremony (13:00 SA time).
Despite being South Africa's most decorated Olympian of all time, Le Clos has never carried the flag at the prestigious opening ceremony, with Caster Semenya doing the honours in 2012 and Wayde van Niekerk in 2016.
Le Clos' Olympic journey dates back to 2010 at the Youth Olympics, where he brought home a record five medals in Singapore.
Two years later, Le Clos stunned the world when he defeated American legend Michael Phelps to win gold in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 London Games. Le Clos then followed up with a silver in the 100m 'butterfly.
He then added two silver medals at the 2016 Rio Games as he finished runner-up in the 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly.
Le Clos has come a long way and is just thankful to represent his country at his third Olympic Games.
"I'm extremely honoured. I can't believe it's the Olympics already, it feels like London or Rio was yesterday," Le Clos told Sport24 on Thursday.
"Time has flown in nine years, but just to be here is a huge plus for everyone after everything that has happened these last couple of months."
Le Clos says he is humbled by the flag bearing honour and hopes to make his country proud at Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Friday.
"It's a huge honour not only for me but for my family. It's another gold medal for me even before the Games starts," said the 29-year-old.
"To represent my country at this level, you dream of this when you're a kid. It's really awesome. I'm really humbled by this.
"I won't take this lightly. It's not every day that this happens, so I'm very grateful."
Le Clos gets his Olympic campaign under way on Sunday in the men's 200m freestyle heats at Tokyo Aquatics Centre from 12:17 (SA time).
*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympics for Sport24.