Hernia-hit Chad le Clos targets trash-talking youngsters

Chad le Clos of South Africa competes at the 8th FINA World Swimming Championships men's 200m butterfly heats at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea on July 23, 2019.
Chad le Clos of South Africa competes at the 8th FINA World Swimming Championships men's 200m butterfly heats at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea on July 23, 2019.
Image: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Chad Le Clos‚ struggling with a groin hernia‚ predicted a tight battle against trash-talking youngsters as he began the defence of his 200m butterfly crown at the world championships on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old won his heat in Gwangju‚ South Korea‚ in 1min 56.17sec to be fifth fastest overall heading into the evening semifinals. 

“I’ve had some trouble‚ of course — my hernia‚” said Le Clos‚ the world 200m ’fly champion in 2013 and again in 2015‚ as well as the 100m ’fly king in 2013 and 2015. 

Le Clos has struggled with a long-standing groin injury that ultimately forced him to stop racing the individual medley‚ aggravated by the breaststroke kick. 

It was finally diagnosed a few weeks back as a hernia‚ which might require surgery after the championships. 

“But I feel good‚ I don’t make excuses‚ as you know. And I come for these young guns‚ you know. They are talking a lot of trash and we’ll see. 

“Next year I’ll get them for sure. This week will be very close‚” added Le Clos‚ without mentioning who had said what. 

Hungary’s European champion Kristof Milak was the session’s quickest in 1:54.19‚ followed by Japanese veteran Daiya Seto (1:54.56)‚ Denys Kesyl of Ukraine (1:55.82) and Brazilian Leonardo De Deus (1:56.05). 

Two of them are still teenagers — Milak is 19 and Kesyl 18. 

“I think a bit of slow morning for everybody‚ but happy to get through‚” added Le Clos. 

“Comfortable being fifth for tonight. Just got to make the final and then have a crack‚ roll of the dice‚ see how we go.”

In other events‚ World Student Games silver medallist Michael Houlie went 27.41 in the 50m breaststroke heats to miss out on a spot in the semifinals. 

The 26.82 Universiade record the US-based Capetonian cracked earlier this month would have ranked him fourth fastest in the heats as opposed to the 19th spot he actually achieved. 

Cape Town schoolgirl Rebecca Meder was 30th overall in the women’s 200m freestyle in 2:02.70‚ but even her 2:00.82 best wouldn’t have been good enough for the semifinals‚ potentially elevating her only to 26th.

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