Will the tantalising showdown between American superstar Michael Phelps and SA’s Chad le Clos live up to the hype?
Today the world is bracing itself for another mouth-watering meeting between South African swimming sensation Chad le Clos and the world’s greatest Olympian Michael Phelps. Les Clos, who pipped Phelps to gold in the men’s 200m butterfly on Tuesday, pulled out of the 200m individual medley (IM) final yesterday to focus on the 100m butterfly heat semi-final, where he qualified second fastest after the American to book a spot in the highly anticipated final tonight.
Phelps, who beat compatriot and world champion Ryan Lochte to clinch gold in the 200m IM last night, is expected to come out with guns blazing to fight off the SA pretender. On the other hand, le Clos, who has qualified for a crazy six finals at the 2012 London Olympics, would seek to do the double over the master. While it would be naïve to rule out the other contestants, what makes this encounter all the more enticing is that Le Clos has been the most engrossing of all the newcomers in the pool, while Phelps – who has hinted retirement after London – is definitely going out with a thunderous bang.
Another South African, three-time Olympic medallist Roland Schoeman, who’s in his fourth games, advanced to the finals of the men’s 50m yesterday. Having qualified with a joint seventh fastest qualifying time with Australia’s Eamon Sullivan, Schoeman will find the going tough in the discipline tonight where Brazil’s Cesar Cielo reigns supreme and the USA’s Cullen Jones is one of the favourites.
The highlight yesterday for the Proteas was when the rowing team clinched gold to help the country finish in the top 10 in yesterday’s medal standings. But today the focus will shift momentarily from swimming to field events as long jumper Khotso Mokoena and the 400m hurdles duo of LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks will also be in action. Let’s hope that they make the country proud too.
Whatever happens in the track events, the one Protea who is guaranteed to make history, whether he wins or not, is Oscar Pistorius as he becomes the first disabled athlete to compete at the Olympics. Pistorius, who runs with blades instead of legs, will be competing in the 400m heats and the 4x400m relay.