Le Clos braced to race in worlds ‘Lion’s Den’
South Africa’s Chad le Clos is bracing himself to race in Budapest’s ‘lion’s den’ atmosphere against home-town favourite Laszlo Cseh in the 200m butterfly at the world aquatic championships.
Every time a Hungarian swims at Budapest’s Duna Arena, the home crowd roar their deafening support. Le Clos expects a battle royal as he tries to wrestle the world gold medal off Cseh. With Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi also through to Tuesday night’s semi-finals, it will be extremely loud if both Hungarians reach today’s final.
“It’s going to be tough, I said a few months ago it’ll be like a lion’s den here, but I’m a fighter - I don’t like to lose,” said Le Clos. “I’m not afraid of anybody, I wish him all the best. “Laszlo and Kenderesi are both good friends, they are the favourites. I’m probably only fourth as it stands.”
Cseh won the world title in Kazan two years ago with Le Clos having to settle for silver. With US swim superstar Michael Phelps now back in retirement, the South African wants the gold in Budapest. Cseh was the fastest qualifier into the semis at 1:54.08 mins with Japan’s Daiya Seto, the 400m medley world champion in 2013 and 2015, just behind. Le Clos, the 2012 Olympic and 2013 world champion, was fifth fastest at 1.82secs back, but said it was all part of the plan. “I knew Laszlo was going to be quick, he likes to go home fast in the morning,” said Le Clos.
“I love all the heats, you know me I like to play games. “It’s ok. We’ll shave a bit (of time off ) tonight and get ready for tomorrow.” Le Clos also explained why he was a no-show for the men’s 200m freestyle heats on Monday, the event in which he won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics.
“We decided about three weeks ago not to swim, I did a time trial about 10 days ago and I was about 1.47.0,” said Le Clos. “I realised I’m probably not in the right shape to go 1.44 here. “I don’t think to be honest that’s going to be good enough for me this time around, so we’ll see.
“But definitely in the Commonwealth Games next year, and definitely in 2020 (the Tokyo Olympics), I’m back.”
BUDAPEST: South Africa’s Chad Le Clos competes in a heat of the men’s 200m butterfly during the swimming competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, yesterday.