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Sun Apr 20 00:09:38 SAST 2014

Olympic disappointment a 'stepping stone' for Le Clos

Ockert de Villiers, Sapa | 29 July, 2012 12:170 Comments
Chad le Clos of South Africa swims during the men's 400m individual medley heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre July 28, 2012
Image by: Toby Melville / REUTERS

Chad le Clos says he will use the disappointment of not winning a medal in the men’s 400 metres individual medley at the Olympic Games on Saturday as a stepping stone towards future glory.

“The 200m fly on Monday and Tuesday night will be huge races for me,” Le Clos said after missing out on a podium finish.

“I believe that I will be stronger in those events and, for now, it is a stepping stone and a learning curve.” 

While Le Clos, who is competing in his maiden Games, was apprehensive about Saturday’s performance, he should be pleased by the way he stuck with the world’s swimming superstars.

The 20-year-old held the lead after the opening length of the butterfly leg but faded in the middle of the race to finish fifth in 4:12.42.

American Ryan Lochte won gold, with Brazil’s Thiago Pereira taking silver.

Japan’s Kosuke Hagino finished third leaving America’s 14-time Olympic gold medallist, Michael Phelps, to touch in fourth place.

“I wasn’t too nervous, I was trying to make myself nervous, and this morning I was thinking this is really the Olympics,” Le Clos said after the race.

“The crowd was massive and I think they played a big role.  

“I am excited for my next race but also for another chance in four year’s time.” 

The South African could ill-afford to fret for too long as he had to prepare himself for his signature event, the 200m butterfly on Monday.

His performance in the medley suggests he could spring a surprise on his more esteemed competitors by clinching a medal in the butterfly.

Le Clos has always maintained that he would be targeting the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games as his pinnacle but he will, nevertheless, take a stab at it in the English capital.

Phelps has indicated this will be his last Olympic Games while Lochte is also approaching the end of his career.

The South African strongly believed he could be the successor to the crown but, to do so, he needed to bite at their heels before they called it a day.

“It is the last time I will be racing against them because Phelps will be retiring,” he said.

“Hopefully Lochte will be around a bit longer because I am a bit disappointed and I need to get him back.”

In the meantime, he will have enough time at the Games to test himself against two of the sport’s great Olympians in the 100m butterfly and the 200m individual medley.

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