DURBAN (Reuters) - South Africa’s Olympic swimming champion Chad le Clos remains undecided on the intensity of his Rio de Janeiro Games schedule ahead of a much-anticipated showdown with idol and rival Michael Phelps in Brazil.
Le Clos stunned the American with victory in the 200 meter butterfly at the London 2012 Games and this week booked a spot in five different events in Brazil after securing required qualifying times at the South African swimming championship.
Whether he features in all of them, though, is unclear.
Le Clos said last year he planned to take on Phelps in the 100m and 200m butterfly and freestyle races at the Aug. 5-21 Games in Rio but has since scrapped the 100m freestyle, failing to enter the event at the national championships in Durban.
Le Clos’ schedule for Rio is the subject of some conjecture with both the swimmer, who turned 24 last week, and coach Graham Hill keeping outsiders guessing.
But he did send out a strong signal to his American rival Phelps, 18-times Olympic champion, with a time of 1 minute 55.04 seconds in the 200m fly and 51.82 seconds in the 100m.
“I‘m just happy to get another time under way,” he told reporters after winning the 100m butterfly race.
“I’m exactly two seconds off the world record but that is my goal.”
Le Clos, who also won silver in the 100m butterfly in London, has set his sights on becoming the most decorated African male Olympian, topping the three gold and one silver medal of Ethiopian long-distance runner Kenenisa Bekele.
“I’ll be in the best shape of my life for Rio and gold is on my mind,” he said previously.
“The butterfly races are on my mind and Michael Phelps’s butterfly world records (100m and 200m) have been on my mind since I won gold in London.”
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Johannesburg; Editing by Patrick Johnston