Kevin McCallum Masthead
August 10 2012 at 11:37

Upon their return to their homeland yesterday, South Africa’s two best swimmers were introduced as two African countries by the sports minister. Cameroon van der Burgh and Chad le Clos, two guys so good that they named entire countries after them.

Le Clos will have some explaining to do to his fellow Manchester United fans when he gets home after he said, on Chelsea TV a few days ago, that he was “very proud to be at Chelsea”.

He paid the Chelsea Football Club a visit this week just before he went home. He is a massive Manchester United fan, as are most of the swim team. Van der Burgh is an Arsenal fan and returned home with a Robin van Persie shirt. Now Van Persie may be going to United. Gosh.

Of course, Le Clos swam at Chelsea, taking on a relay of some of the players in their pool and swam underwater for most of the race. He won. Naturally. Some of the players swim like they are being beaten with electric prods. A Brazilian called Lucas tried to foul him at the end of the swim.

Chelsea captain John Terry, surprisingly, was nowhere to be seen. It may just be the first photo opportunity the man has missed since the Champions League triumph. Asked about Chelsea’s Champions League victory, Le Clos said Chelsea were very popular in South Africa.

“It’s unbelievable!” he told the official Chelsea website, apparently speaking in exclamation marks. “There are so many more Chelsea fans where I am from after that [Champions League] win. Every Saturday we have bars and clubs, with huge parties when there is a game on.”

Wow, every Saturday you do bars and clubs. We need to talk, Chad.

There were pictures in the local rags of Le Clos enjoying his nights out in Joburg, but he looked well behaved. When I saw him after the night at the Chinawhite night club he looked spritely.

He was pictured with a bottle of Moet with gold leaf on it, but not slugging out of it. It costs almost R700 to get into the club, but athletes did not pay.

“It was pretty cool,” said Le Clos. “Everyone was there, the Americans and the French team. Pretty much the whole of the VIP area was crawling with swimmers. We all enjoyed ourselves.”

The Daily Telegraph reports that American swimmer Ryan Lochte was also there, while sprint superstar Usain Bolt had an early night with three Swedish women handball players at 3am.

“It’s been crazy,” Durban’s favourite son breathlessly told the Telegraph. “I haven’t had much sleep since the swimming finished. I’ve been going to bed very late, maybe three o’clock, maybe even later. I’ve been sitting in my room trying to sleep but I just can’t manage it. Ever since I won the gold, things are different. Last night it was electric – everyone was so excited.”

Almost as excited as a Manchester United fan who spent a morning at Chelsea FC. “Hey, you’re not going to tell them I’m a United fan, are you?” Le Clos said to me the day before he visited Chelsea. Of course not, Chad, of course not.


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