Swimming: Le Clos is cool on rivalry with Phelps

Michael Phelps leading Chad le Clos during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's 200m butterfly final on Aug 9, 2016.
Michael Phelps leading Chad le Clos during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's 200m butterfly final on Aug 9, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - One of the most memorable images to emerge from this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro featured Michael Phelps' killer stare at rival Chad le Clos while the duo were in the waiting room.

The South African appeared to be warming up by shadow-boxing while a seemingly displeased Phelps looked on with a cold-blooded gaze - an image that has since spawned numerous memes.

Touching on this at the Fina Swimming World Cup meet and greet at the Kallang Wave Mall on Thursday (Oct 20), le Clos said: "I have no bad feelings towards Michael or anybody for that matter. How can you hate someone who has the same dream as you?

"I wasn't even shadow-boxing, I was just warming up. I do that all the time. It looks ridiculous."

Laughing, he added: "But if he wants to get in the ring ,we can, you know."

The rivalry between the two swimmers had gone up a few notches leading up the the Olympics, with Phelps firing the first salvo last year when he said the swimmers in the 200m butterfly were not that fast.

Since then, it has been a game of one-up between the two as they tried to out-swim each other in the 200 fly.

The American had the last laugh, winning the 200m fly in Rio, with le Clos finishing fourth.

But the pair seemed to have made up, holding hands as they stood on the podium together during the 100m fly victory ceremony, where they, along with Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, were joint-second.

Singapore's Joseph Schooling won that race, and le Clos is looking forward to racing the Singaporean at next year's World Championships.

He said: "He has a lot of potential. He's already done the fastest time in the world in textile. I'm sure he can get close to the world record (49.82sec), but I'll be down his neck. I'll try to beat him the next time.

"He doesn't have much weaknesses. To beat Joseph you have to swim close to your perfect race."

Le Clos, along with fellow Olympians including Katinka Hosszu and Daiya Seto, are in town for the two-day Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup, presented by Yakult.

The short-course meet starts tomorrow at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. Singapore is the seventh stop of the meet, which has nine legs this year.