Chad le Clos said he holds no animosity towards great rival Michael Phelps as he prepares to come up against the legendary American in the Olympic 200 meter butterfly final on Tuesday.
Phelps directed a furious glare at Le Clos as the South African warmed up for Monday’s semi-final by shadow boxing in the call room in front of the most decorated Olympic of all time.
Le Clos was unperturbed and will aim to get Phelps’ blood boiling again by retaining his title in an eagerly-awaited showdown at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center.
The 24-year-old stunned Phelps, who won gold in the 4x100m freestyle in Rio on Sunday to take his Olympic medal tally to 23, by claiming 200m butterfly gold in the London Games four years ago.
Le Clos stressed on the eve of the Rio final that he has no ill feeling for Phelps despite some verbal sparring at the World Championships in Kazan last year.
“For my side there is no real tension. I have no emotion when I am racing. Of course there is a huge rivalry between Michael and myself. As I have said before I have huge respect for him,” he said.
“In the last year there was definitely spoken words over his nationals and I had world championships, I think a lot of it was misquoted. But at the end of the day I am a racer and I want to beat him and he wants to beat me.”
Le Clos warned his rivals that he will not relinquish his Olympic title without a fight.
He added: “I have a saying, ‘You have to fear someone who never gives up’. I will keep coming back at you. So I am sure everyone else will be thinking about that the last 50m.”
Le Clos claimed his first medal at the Rio Games when he took silver in the 200m freestyle on Monday.