Skip to main content

Meet Chad le Clos, Michael Phelps' Biggest Rival At The Olympics

Chad le Clos will be public enemy No. 1 for anyone cheering for Michael Phelps at the Olympics tonight.

Chad le Clos, along with the help of the United States' all-time Olympian, made headlines at the pool Monday evening. Prior to their 200M butterfly qualifying swim, le Clos, a South African, danced around in the green room, right in front of Phelps. This prompted Phelps to stare daggers in le Clos' direction.

Here's video:

">August 9, 2016

The taunting/stare-downs continued before the race, too.

Michael Phelps preparing for his Olympic race


Phelps went on to finish second in the heat, while le Clos finished third - both qualified for tonight's final in the 200M butterfly.

Here's a rundown of the rivalry.

In 2012, le Clos upset Phelps in epic fashion in the 200M butterfly at the Olympics in London. It's perhaps the most-stunning result of Phelps' career.

A picture of Chad le Clos after winning the butterfly event.


A picture of the Olympics Men's 200m Butterfly standings.


In 2015, Phelps, prior to the World Championships, talked about how people weren't swimming that fast in the butterfly anymore.

From NBC:

“It’s interesting watching the world in this event,” Phelps told media at a meet in Charlotte, N.C., on May 15. “If you look at what [Tom] Malchowwon in 2000 [his time at the Sydney Olympics], still what everybody’s going nowadays. It’s still not that fast an event.”

le Clos, unsurprisingly, didn't take kindly to Phelps' statement.

“He’s been talking a lot of smack in the media about how slow the butterfly is, so I just can’t wait until I race him,” South African Chad le Clossaid Wednesday at the World Championships, according to The Associated Press.

le Clos went on to win the 100M butterfly at the World Championships (Phelps wasn't competing) and gave us this trash talk.

“I just did a [100m butterfly] time that [Phelps] hasn’t done in four years, so he can keep quiet now,” le Clos said on Eurosport. Six years, actually. Phelps hasn’t clocked 50.56 or better in the 100m butterfly since 2009, when he set the world record of 49.82.

Le Clos went on in speaking to more media in Kazan on Saturday.

“I’m just very happy that he’s back to his good form, so he can’t come out and say, ‘Oh, I haven’t been training’ or all that rubbish that he’s been talking,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “Next year [at Rio] is going to be Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier.

The rivalry could peak tonight. The 200M butterfly is set to start at 9:28 p.m. E.T. on NBC.