July 26, 2014 / 10:34 PM / 5 years ago

Injury almost ruined my race to gold, says Le Clos

GLASGOW (Reuters) - An ankle injury nearly prevented Olympic champion Chad le Clos from successfully defending his 200 meters butterfly title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Saturday, the swimmer told Reuters.

South Africa's Chad le Clos celebrates winning in the men's 200m Butterfly final at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, July 26, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

The South African, who added gold to the silver and bronze he won in the pool on Friday, looked comfortable as he breezed to victory in one minute 55.07 seconds ahead of Australia’s Grant Irvine and Le Clos’s compatriot Sebastien Rousseau.

Yet the Olympic 200 butterfly champion said he feared things would not turn out so well after he fell on his ankle when getting off a bus the previous evening.

“I was really nervous. I came to the pool in heavy strapping and I had this puffy ankle,” the 22-year-old said after defending the title he won in Delhi in 2010.

“This morning I was in a little bit of pain but I had 10 hours to rest it and didn’t feel it tonight.”

Le Clos also won the 400 individual medley at the Commonwealth Games four years ago but chose not to defend his title in Glasgow, meaning the 200 butterfly took on extra significance.

“It was very important for me to defend my title because I didn’t defend my 400 meters title last night,” he said

“We came into this competition not in the greatest shape, a little bit cagey due to the sickness I had a couple of weeks ago. I was in the altitude room and I had really bad asthma. To come here tonight and win the gold was the main goal.

“Two hundred butterfly is my bread and butter. It’s the breakout event that I did four years ago and it’s the race I haven’t lost now since London. It’s my pride, call it my territory if you like.”

Le Clos beat 18-times Olympic champion Michael Phelps in the same event at the London 2012 Olympic Games to shock the world of swimming.

That victory prompted impassioned celebrations on BBC television from his father Bert, who instantly became a worldwide celebrity thanks to the circulation of the video on the internet.

At the Glasgow 2014 Games, Bert has been the subject of much media attention and has been continually surrounded by fans asking for photographs in the stands, while watching his son compete.

Chad says he is happy for his father to share the spotlight with him as the pair are inseparable.

“My Dad is my best friend, for him to take the limelight, I’m happy with that,” he smiled.

“We come as a package deal. Wherever we go sometimes it’s like ‘I didn’t know it was you Chad but I recognized your Dad first’. It works both ways, we’re like twins.”

He will now look to add to his medal haul and will compete in the 100m butterfly on Sunday before racing again in the 200m individual medley on Tuesday.

Reporting by Sam Holden; editing by Toby Davis

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