GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - Chad le Clos’s bid to become the most successful athlete in Commonwealth Games history will have to wait another four years after he picked up just one medal on the second day in the pool on Friday.
The 25-year-old, who won seven medals in Glasgow four years ago and five at Delhi in 2010, was aiming for another seven in the pool at the Gold Coast Aquatics Centre.
Le Clos, however, was only able to clinch gold in the 50m butterfly in the first final of second day’s programme and faded over the last leg to finish seventh in the 200m freestyle. South Africa finished sixth in the 4x100m relay.
He can now only feasibly finish the Games with 17 medals, one behind shooters Phillip Adams from Australia and Mick Gault of England and will need to wait for Birmingham in four years time to surpass the duo.
“I don’t make excuses. There’s no ‘but’ for champions,” le Clos said on Friday. “I am only 25 years old. It’s my third Games. There are guys here with six Games.
“I will get the record so there’s no problem.”
Le Clos, who surprised the world by beating American great Michael Phelps in his signature 200m butterfly at the 2012 London Olympics, had spoken before the Gold Coast competition began of cementing a legacy with the medal haul.
The spectacle of his first final at the Gold Coast was diminished by the absence of England’s world champion Ben Proud, who was disqualified during the heats for moving on the blocks.
Proud had blitzed his heat, which included les Clos, by more than a body length before the scoreboard showed he had been disqualified.
Le Clos consequently qualified for Friday’s final with the fastest time and stormed to the front from the first few strokes to finish in 23.37 seconds, beating Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter and fellow South African Ryan Coetzee.
He then returned to the pool deck less than 20 minutes later for the 200m freestyle final, arguably the most high-powered of the second day of competition at the pool.
Le Clos, who won silver in the event at the Rio Olympics, was joined in the field by Rio champions in the 100m Kyle Chalmers and 400m Mack Horton as well as England’s James Guy, the 2015 world champion.
He went out fast but was unable to sustain his pace and was swum down by Australian duo Chalmers and Horton, who finished one-two, and Scotland’s Duncan Scott. The South African said not having enough time to recover had affected him.
“I was very happy with the 50m (butterfly), 200m (freestyle) not so much,” he said.
“It was tougher than I expected. It’s not the breathing, it’s the lactic acid. It’s very hard.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Toby Davis