Doha, Qatar: South African swimmer and 2012 Olympic champion Chad le Clos is currently in Doha to prepare for the upcoming 14th FINA World Swimming Championships taking place in Hangzhou, China from December 11 to 16.
While using Aspire Zone’s impeccable swimming facilities at Hamad Aquatic Center and Aspire Academy, he also used the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Academy on Wednesday.
What the 26-year-old athlete, who holds 13 World Championships gold medals in 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly, saw, truly impressed him: “I have been coming to Qatar for many, many years now. To be honest, I only saw half, or maybe a quarter of Aspire Academy back in 2014, 2015. So today was the first time I got the chance to see everything – including the recovery labs, the football centres, the school, the library. It’s just phenomenal. For me it’s the best facility I’ve ever seen. I think the whole Aspire Academy is a great concept to give kids the opportunity to learn, to recover, to train, to study everything under one roof, where everything can be really done efficiently. So, for me I wish I had these opportunities as a youngster. It’s a phenomenal concept.”
Hearing about the Academy’s philosophy reminded him of his own beginnings as a young swimmer. “The kids here have to be very motivated, because you get to go to school in the morning up to 10 o’ clock. Then they train for an hour and a half, have their recovery, have their lunch, back to school and back to training. So, everything is done within the day.
“Of course, it’s a long day, but it’s exactly what young aspiring athletes need. You know, when I was young, my dad did a similar thing to me. He would actually pull me out of school sometimes a little bit early. Maybe at the time it was not a good thing, but it was exactly what I needed as a youngster back when I was in high school.”
He also had the opportunity to meet Aspire Academy swimmers during the tour and they used the opportunity to ask him about his secret of success: “I think my goal was always very simple. As a kid I wanted to be the best that I could be. My dad taught me never to give up on my dreams and never listen to naysayers that want to bring you down, because in life you would have a lot of people that are jealous of you and of this opportunity. Just go out there, have fun and be the best that you can be. At the end of the day, if you can give 100 percent, you know whatever result comes, you can be proud of yourself.”
Besides preparing for the upcoming FINA World Swimming Championships in China, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are one of the big goals for the three-time Commonwealth Games winner. “I know that when I go to the next Olympic Games I leave no stone unturned. That’s why I am coming here to Aspire Academy, training here, training around the world at great facilities. I know that I have given myself the best opportunity. Winning, of course, is the most important thing for me, but if I come second or fourth or tenth, I know that I have given my best and I can sleep well at night.”