KOLKATA, July 29: Ahead of his much-anticipated clash with the celebrated Michael Phelps at the Olympics Aquatics Stadium in Barra da Tijuca, South African Chad Le Clos has announced that he�s the best out there.
Le Clos created ripples in 200m butterfly event of the London Olympics snatching a fifth gold from the American superstar who later ended his career only to return for Rio in what will be a second swansong for the 31-year-old.
�Mentally, I believe I�m the strongest athlete out there. Not a lot can break me,� the 24-year-old told PTI in an email interview, ahead of his much-hyped 200m butterfly duel against Phelps.
�It will be a lot different to how it was in London. I feel like I almost have a target on my back. Coming into the Olympic Games in London, I was an underdog. I wasn�t really given a shot. So it was almost like I had no pressure coming into the event.
�What changes now is that there�s a lot of media hype around me. But I think I�ve learned to deal with all sorts of pressures. I�ve prepared myself in ways that no one else has.�
Le Clos� rivalry with his one-time idol has taken the sport to a new height and the latest swimming sensation said he�s shifting into sixth gear to finish hard into the wall (touchpad).
�You have to go through the gears. A car has five gears, but you almost have to push into 6th gear and get that final burst of speed. In practice and in butterfly especially, I�m always finishing with my head down and into the wall,� he said.
�Obviously at the Olympic Games in 2012 there were some very tight races, especially the famous one against Michael Phelps. What I�ve been working for this year is tweaking the small things. It�s been all about sharpening my tools and getting ready for the biggest week of my life.� � PTI