Friday, August 22, 2014

Chad le Clos - Behind the Gold Medal

by Calmin Valentino

Chad Guy Bertrand le Clos is an Olympic gold medalist and South Africa's golden boy in the swimming pool. Born on the 12 of April, 1992, le Clos is the human embodiment of hard work and determination and he has the medals to prove it.

Attending Westville Boys' High School, le Clos first displayed an interest in football but would later dip his toe in the pool and has never looked back. He grew up devoted to his sports, and enabled with an emotional maturity he set goals for himself from  a very young age. The champion clearly had to sacrifice a lot to achieve his goals including a social life, and as a result didn't make many friends, but Chad would find his most vital friendship in his proud father, Bert le Clos. Chad credits his father as a driving force behind the person he is today, along with family and friends whose support he greatly cherishes.

Le Clos says of these sacrifices:  " You have to sacrifice a lot,; laying in bed, you say: 'I wish I could have gone to that party, or you know, when I was sixteen I could have done that.'" 

All in all he reaped much success from his sacrifices and continues to set and achieve life-long goals, dreamed up by a little boy years ago who wanted to be only the best at what he does: swimming.

After his triumph over Micheal Phelps and winning gold at the 2012 Olympics, le Clos released a book chronicling his life's journey (so far) entitled "Unbelievable". It is a book giving readers an intimate look into his life and mindset. He explains this offering not as a autobiography but as a positive and inspirational book for all ages, highlighting family values and perseverance along with what it takes to succeed, namely discipline and support. Chad devoted a special chapter in his book "Unbelievable" to his  father, a testament to the role his father, Bert, had in nurturing a young boy with champion aspirations. Bert even recalls a time when a 12-year-old Chad dreamed of going to the 2012 Olympics and winning gold.

Le Clos comes across in the media as a humble, calm and level-headed individual,  adoring his fans and even stripping to his speedo by request…..on radio. SA's champion swimmer displayed great character when he decided to accompany a Gauteng high school student to her matric ball, one request among many, but the swimming sensation decided to accept the first girl who would ask him in person. He admits that the pressure of media takes some getting used to with the camera always being on him, but that he is handling it better with time.

A down-to-earth young man who worked hard towards his goals, his success is a product of his discipline and careful decision-making process but ultimately a product of his dreams. The 22-year-old now looks forward to Rio 2016, already swimming with a head full of possibilities, but still with his feet firmly on the ground. Le Clos eagerly awaits once again facing one of his idols, Micheal Phelps, in Rio 2016 if Phelps decides to compete. Phelps who recently came out of retirement, named Chad as one of the reasons for him entering the swimming scene once again.

Chad explained: " I welcome his challenge back. I said before the Olympics that I'd rather loose to the best than win against someone who isn't necessary the best, if that makes sense. I want to race Michael again and definitely hopefully beat him again, so it'll be good."

We wish SA's star swimmer great success for Rio 2016 and all the preparations and competitions  leading up to his big splash. We all take inspiration from the words he wrote to himself before he won gold at the 2012 Olympics: "Hey Chad, whatever happens today, your family, your coach are proud of you. If you win, never change; if you don't win just make sure you work harder in 2016."

As the champ would say, "One hundred percent".