Le Clos guns for Phelps' fly records

South African Chad le Clos leading the way to win 100m butterfly at the World Championships last week. Legend Michael Phelps aside, he sees Daiya Seto, Tom Shields and Ryan Lochte as contenders.
South African Chad le Clos leading the way to win 100m butterfly at the World Championships last week. Legend Michael Phelps aside, he sees Daiya Seto, Tom Shields and Ryan Lochte as contenders.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
South African Chad le Clos leading the way to win 100m butterfly at the World Championships last week. Legend Michael Phelps aside, he sees Daiya Seto, Tom Shields and Ryan Lochte as contenders.
Adam Peaty.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Progress makes him confident of beating US star in Rio but notes there are other rivals too

RIO DE JANEIRO • Olympic swimming champion Chad le Clos will be aiming to break the 100m and 200m butterfly world records held by Michael Phelps at next year's Rio Games.

The South African told Rio2016.com that he has improved since the London 2012 Games, where he beat Phelps to win the 200m butterfly and finished second to the American in the 100m.

"The Rio Olympics are my main focus," the 23-year-old said. "I will be in the best shape of my life for Rio and gold is on my mind.

"The butterfly races are on my mind and Michael Phelps' butterfly world records have been on my mind since I won gold in London."

Phelps, the winner of 18 Olympic golds, retired after the London Games but has since returned to the pool with encouraging results.

NOT THE WAY TO GO

It's like a slap on the wrists. It's not a good message... People out there now will be thinking 'if I can dope and not get caught then why am I doing it the hard way'?

ADAM PEATY, on Sun Yang serving a three-month ban quietly imposed by his own swimming federation

Le Clos said Phelps' presence in Rio would be good for swimming, but believes he has what it takes to deny his rival a dream Olympic farewell in two of his preferred events.

He showed he was on the right track by winning the 100m butterfly gold at the World Championships in Kazan on Saturday.

"Obviously the 49.82sec will be the toughest - Michael was the first one to go below 50 seconds," said le Clos of Phelps' 100m fly world record. "But I am feeling good and will be in great shape. The main thing I need to work on is my front end, as the second half of my race is much stronger."

Apart from the butterfly events, le Clos plans to compete in the 100m and 200m freestyle in Rio.

He stressed there were other competitors that were also capable of challenging himself and Phelps.

"Obviously Michael Phelps is the greatest of all time and he would not come back for fun," said le Clos. "He'll be coming to win and he will be a huge threat to my goals. But there's also Daiya Seto, Tom Shields and Ryan Lochte.

"I have worked really hard and I am sure it will pay off next year. We train in a four-year-cycle that is focused on peaking for the Olympics. I will do my best and hopefully that will be enough to be the best swimmer in the world in all my events. I will swim to win."

Triple world champion Adam Peaty, though, fears being beaten by a non-clean swimmer at Rio. The Briton is particularly peeved that China's double world champion Sun Yang got off lightly for last year's doping offence.

Sun served a three-month ban imposed by the Chinese Swimming Association last year for taking a banned stimulant, but Peaty said that sent out the wrong message.

"I don't know what's gone on behind the scenes," the world record holder in the 50m and 100m breaststroke told the BBC. "But it's disappointing to see that he was let off so cautiously - it's like a slap on the wrists.

"It's not a good message - this is not (just) Sun Yang, it's doping as a whole. People out there now will be thinking, 'If I can dope and not get caught then why am I doing it the hard way?' "

Peaty said he was tested "seven or eight times" during last week's World Championships in Kazan, Russia. "All I can do is improve my times and hope I don't come second to someone who dopes," he said.

XINHUA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline 'LE CLOS GUNS FOR PHELPS' FLY RECORDS'. Print Edition | Subscribe