Chad Le Clos: “I hope South Africans can see the pride in all of us.”
AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
FOUR-time Olympic medalist Chad Le Close hopes to make South Africa proud as he and the national team begin their Olympic battle.
The South African swimmer spoke to media after being announced as one of the flag bearers for his home nation, walking alongside Olympic debutant and women’s hockey vice-captain, Phumelela Mbande.
“It is a huge thing, this is special for me, and it means a lot to my family and me. Just being here [at the Olympic Games] is a huge honour after everything that has happened,” Le Clos told Tokyo 2020.
Le Clos first shared the exciting news with his father Bert Le Clos, who became popular during the 2012 London Olympics after Bert’s interview with CNN went viral.
“My dad burst into tears when I told him. It is a huge thing, and I am very proud to not only represent swimming but the whole country at this year’s Olympics,” he added.
“I hope South Africans can see the pride in all of us and take inspiration.”
Being South Africa’s most decorated Olympian, Le Clos made his debut at the 2012 London Olympics, where he beat US Olympian Michael Phelps by 0.05s to claim his maiden Olympic gold medal before clinching the silver medal in the 100m butterfly.
He had a similarly stellar performance in Rio 2016, standing on the podium with two silver medals in the 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle.
“This feels like a gold medal for me, to represent my country at that stage, I feel a bit like Siya Kolisi (South African Rugby World Cup-winning captain),” Le Clos added.
Upon their arrival in Tokyo, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) president, Barry Hendricks, congratulated Le Clos and Mbande on the selection as the nation’s flag bearers.
“As always, it was incredibly difficult to arrive at a decision as to who to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony,” Hendricks said ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday.
“Both Chad and Phumelela are role models and inspirations for their respective sports, and we’re proud to have them carrying the flag for our wonderful nation.”
The appointments of Le Clos and Mbande also forms part of a initiative by the International Olympic Committee by breaking Olympics tradition and allowing participating nations to appoint a woman and man as their flag bearers for the opening ceremony.