Le Clos and Van der Burgh: The return
Chad Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh are looking for gold at this week’s world championships as they bid to reclaim some of the spotlight from South Africa’s athletes.
Le Clos and Van der Burgh bagged three silver medals between them at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a drop from their two golds and silver at London 2012.
With Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya spearheading South Africa’s track-and-field squad to a record four Olympic medals last year, athletes are enjoying the attention heading into the IAAF world championships in London from August 5-13. The swimmers are feeling the pinch, admits Van der Burgh, in action in the 100m heats this morning.
“I was speaking to Chad and we both said it ’s really important for us to try to do well now at this world championship,” he said from their training base in Turkey this week, the day before flying to Budapest, Hungary. “It ’smy aim to go in and steal a little bit of the limelight back from athletics. I think they are stealing too much of our spotlight,” he added with a laugh.
Van der Burgh will have to dethrone Englishman Adam Peaty, who took his 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.
“The 50s have been very close [between us], I’m really looking forward to that,” said Van der Burgh, the London 2012 100m Olympic champion.
Van der Burgh and Peaty are 1-1 in the one-lap race, the former winning at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the latter at the last world championships in 2015. “For me, the 50 is more my prime focus.”
Le Clos has won the 100m butterfly at the last two editions, but was dethroned in the 200m fly in 2015 after winning it in 2013.
Nowhemust get past Olympic champion Joseph Schooling in the 100m, and in the 200m, where he ended fourth at the Rio Games, there’s even more competition. Le Clos has dumped the 200m freestyle, where he took Olympic silver, to focus on fly.
“I’ve got personal bests in every event since 2012 except the 200m fly. Why not? I’ve wanted to win so bad it was to my detriment,” he admitted.
He seized up in his first international 200 of the year, going 1min 56.64sec, but improved that to 1:54.87 five days later.
“I decided to swim freely, with no game plan, just swim like I did before 2012.
“Before that race I was not looking too great . . . but two seconds in five days. I’m super - pumped , ” said Le Clos, who swings into action in the 200m on Tuesday.