On Monday night, South African swimmer Chad Le Clos almost unhinged Michael Phelps.
Before the men’s 200m butterfly semifinal, Le Clos started to shadow box in front of a visibly peeved Phelps. Phelps and Le Clos have a rivalry that goes back to the 2012 London Olympics, where Le Clos won gold in the 200m butterfly semifinal, beating Phelps by 0.05 seconds. Phelps took silver in an event he usually shines in (he has won two gold medals in the butterfly).
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This wasn’t a typical case of trying to get into a competitor’s head before a meet. If anything, Le Clos’s taunting added fuel to Phelps’ anger.
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As Le Clos continued to toy with Phelps before the race, Phelps’ anger seemed to rise. His game face said it all.
When Phelps and Le Clos walked to the pool, Le Clos stared at Phelps until the race started. Given the amount of tension before the race, you would’ve thought it was the final. Both swimmers qualified for the final, taking second and third, respectively.
These two clearly have some serious beef, so the final on Tuesday night should be even more intense.
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