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Superstar Chad’s motivational words for SA in China

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By Mark Etheridge
in Nanjing, China 

If ever Team South Africa needed some stirring words of motivation at the Youth Olympic Games being held here then they surely got them on Wednesday.

SA swimming superstar Chad le Clos is in town for the briefest of visits and took time out to have a chat with most of the 55-strong team as they continued to hunt for their first medal.

Le Clos is a Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Ambassador and he is perfectly equipped to brief this young team.

He first sprung to fame at events like the 2008 Commonwealth Games in Pune, India and then four years ago at the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore.

Since then he has become one of swimming’s, indeed, world sport’s, most recognisable talents and won gold and silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

‘You won’t believe my schedule here,’ he told the Road to Rio 2016 website in the Athletes’ Village dining hall. ‘I arrived here last night, was up at 5am to train and then I leave tomorrow for Dubai where I’m racing next week.’

Le Clos said he pulled no punches when he addressed the team. ‘I told them: “Guys, the bottom line is that you haven’t made it yet by competing at this level. This is not the bee’s knees yet. At this level you get cut down very quickly.

“Once you leave these Games you have to go back to the drawing board. And you can’t think about having a drink with the guys on a Friday night, knowing you have to be up early for Saturday morning training. There always has to be a specific goal at the back of your mind.’

Le Clos also said he had been questioned by some of the team on the subject of being overcome by nerves and stressing too much at their events.

‘When I grew up, Michael Phelps was my hero but you can’t allow yourself to be intimidated. It’s all very well being friendly after competition, etc. but he was my “enemy” at the Games. You have to have a competition-mode and be able to become a totally different beast with the flick of a switch.

‘The guys said they are a bit intimidated but you can’t allow yourself to think “Ooh, look, there is the Australian men’s hockey side!”

‘The guys and girls have to remember that body language is so vitally important. Even when I swim badly I still keep the body language going.

‘At the end of the day, we are all the same and the guys must trust their coach, their various programmes and themselves.’

Time will tell if Le Clos’ words of wisdom rub off on the team of 2014.


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