Chad le Clos threw down a cheeky challenge to US swimstar Michael Phelps ahead of their showdown at the 2016 Olympics after retaining his 100m butterfly world title.
The South African clocked 50.56 seconds for a new African record in the final as Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh finished second at just 0.31 back. It was sweet revenge for Le Clos, the 200m Olympic champion, who had lost his world crown on the wall over the same distance to Cseh in Wednesday’s final, when he was edged out by just 0.20.
Le Clos punched the water in delight after his 100m victory – with father Bert celebrating wildly in the stands – in a virtual carbon copy of his 2013 triumph in Barcelona when Cseh settled for silver behind the South African.
On the other side of the world, Phelps clocked a stunning 1min 52.94sec to win the 200m butterfly at the US championships on Friday in San Antonio, Texas. It’s the fastest time he has produced in the event since he set the world record of 1:51.51 in 2009 – and is two-hundredths of a second faster than the 1:52.96 Le Clos swam to deny Phelps gold on the wall at the London Olympics in 2012.
“Michael swam a great time, but with all due respect, that’s not so hard to do when you’re swimming on your own,” grinned the 23-year-old Le Clos.
Now Le Clos says he hopes Phelps, who is suspended for the Kazan worlds after last year’s drink-driving conviction, will be ready to battle him again in Rio.
“I’m very excited for Rio next year and I hope he’s in good shape, because I’m in good shape and when Chad le Clos comes at you in the last 50m, you’d better be ready,” added the South African. “It’s going to be another great battle in Rio.”
Elsewhere, France’s Olympic champion Florent Manaudou added the world crown to his London 2012 triumph when he won the men’s 50m freestyle gold. Manaudou clocked 21.19 seconds with Nathan Adrian of the United States, the Olympic 100m champion, taking silver at 0.33secs as Brazil’s Bruno Fratus earned bronze at 0.36.
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