Chad le Clos: The Early Years
Almost every person on the planet with any interest in sports knows what Chad le Clos has been doing ever since the moment his hand touched the wall and he won the gold from Michael Phelps. However, what has eluded so many fans, in South Africa and around the world is, what’s the story behind this magnificent athlete?
Born in Durban, South Africa on 12 April 1992, Chad was gifted with the rather long name of Chad Guy Bertrand le Clos, by parents, Geraldine and Bert le Clos. The latter of these two received almost as much attention from the international media after a very ebullient and emotional interview on BBC went viral. Both of his parents have spoken about their pride in their son, and encouraging him with his passion for swimming from a very young age.
He was actually equally interested in soccer and swimming and eventually had to make a choice between the two sports, something he described as a real sacrifice. However, it’s hard to believe that after all that he has achieved in swimming anyone could have any doubts that he made the right choice. Although, one could wonder whether he could have achieved equally magnificent things on the soccer field?
Officially he started training at age 10, but Chad has spoken about swimming a lot even before that, being somewhat of a ‘water baby’. Not long after he started training, Chad watched Michael Phelps, the man he would later beat, win 6 gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, which inspired him to push himself even further than he could previously have imagined.
Going to school at Westville Boys High School near his home town, Chad received significant support from the school as well as coach Graham Hill at Seagulls Swimming Club in Pinetown. This helped Chad to take his first steps towards swimming against international competition. It was while at Westville that Chad won the prestigious Sports Person of the Year award in 2010, awarded by SPAR & Daily News after competing against many of the top school athletes and sportsmen for the honour.
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