Olympics-Warrior Le Clos confirmed for legacy bid in Paris pool


  • Swimming
  • Thursday, 16 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: Swimming - World Aquatics Championships - Aspire Dome, Doha, Qatar - February 16, 2024 South Africa's Chad Le Clos in action during the men's 100m butterfly semi final 1 REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

(Reuters) - South Africa's most decorated Olympian Chad le Clos will hope to burnish his legacy in the Paris pool after being named in the nation's swim team for the Games.

The 32-year-old butterfly specialist will look to add to his haul of four Olympic medals at his fourth Games, having finished fifth in the 100 metres butterfly at the World Championships in Doha in February.

In his prime, Le Clos famously took the 200m butterfly gold medal off Michael Phelps at the 2012 London Olympics.

Four years later at Rio, Le Clos faded to fourth in the re-match won by the American great and was in a three-way tie with Phelps for the 100m butterfly silver.

Though he last mounted a long-course world podium in 2019, Le Clos is adamant he can be a contender at Paris.

"That's where we're looking to surprise," he said in Doha in February.

Le Clos will be closely watched by home fans in Paris but his team mate Tatjana Smith may be the nation's best medal chance.

Smith, when surnamed Schoenmaker, upset American Lilly King to claim the 200m breaststroke gold medal at the Tokyo Games with a then-world record swim of two minutes 18.95 seconds.

The world record has since gone to Russian Evgeniia Chikunova, who told home media last month, however, that she was not willing to compete at Paris as a neutral as required by the International Olympic Committee.

Smith, runner-up in the 100m breaststroke at Tokyo behind American Lydia Jacoby, clocked the third fastest 200m breaststroke of all time last month with a 2:19.01 swim at the South African national championships, proving she remains a huge contender.

Pieter Coetze, who took the men's 200m backstroke bronze at the Doha World Championships, was also confirmed for the South African team.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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