Making quite a splash in the pool, swimming superstar Chad Le Clos went head-to-head last night with Youth Olympic Games Ambassador Michael Phelps in the men’s 200m butterfly and succeeded in securing South Africa’s second gold.
In truly epic style, the five-time Youth Olympic Games medallist closed in on his hero in the last 50 metres, finishing with an incredible time of 1:52.96, beating his own national record.
Stunned for words after an emotional win, Chad hadn’t even contemplated victory in a sport that Phelps has dominated for almost a decade, “just to be next to him (Phelps) in the final was just an honour.” The 20-year-old swimming sensation has always been a big fan of Phelps: “he has always been an inspiration to me and a role model,” he says “I've watched all his races a million times and ran the commentary over.”
After seeing the “1” next to his name Chad pounded the water in disbelief, “I knew he finishes strong,” Le Clos said. “It sounds crazy but I actually thought I was Michael on the last turn. I just thought I could try do something special. The last 25 metres came in slow-mo.'"
Chad wasn’t the only ex-Youth Olympic Game athlete to win a medal today though. Both Viktoria Komova (Russia) and Diana Bulimar (Romania) won medals in the women’s artistic gymnastics team final, with Russia taking silver and Romania bronze. “I’m really happy with my medal,” Diana tells us “It feels amazing to have come this far.” The experience though can’t compare to the Youth Olympic Games: “these Games are just so much bigger, there’s so much talent and competition,” she says. After a dazzling performance by them both, the gymnastic stars are firm contenders for medals in the women’s individual after Viktoria qualified for the finals in first place. Be sure to watch out for both of them in the finals this Thursday!
Other athletes waving the Youth Olympic Games flag included swimmers Yannick Kaeser (Switzerland) and Matt Stanley (New Zealand), who didn’t qualify for their respective finals, and Christian Vom Lehn (Germany) came 6th in his semi-final. Alexander Massialas (USA) went out in round 16 of the men’s individual foil and tennis star Timea Babos (Hungary) was defeated by Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
What a legendary day for our Youth Olympians - three medals in one day! Let’s keep them coming guys!!