Chad le Clos. The ultimate Rio hero.

30 May 2024, Thursday

Taking nothing away from Wayde van Niekerk’s scintillating world record run at the 2016 Olympics, Chad le Clos has returned the ultimate South African hero .

Le Clos won two silver medals, in the 200m freestyle and the 100m butterfly races, in Rio to add to his gold and silver from the London Olympics – giving him the distinction of having won more Olympic medals than any other South African.

But, there’s more to it than that .

The Olympic Games is all about milli- seconds and milli-meters. Taking home gold demands that athletes enter what the great champions refer to as “ THE ZONE “. In performance coaching we call it “The High Performance Zone”, or even more accurately:

The 90 /10 Zone

It’s where focus matters most.

When Tiger  Woods dominated world golf for nearly a decade, sports psychologist, Dr. Stephen Kosslyn described his mind- state as follows:

In Tiger Wood’s head there is an orchestra .And it’s not just that some of the orchestra’s players are virtuosos, a lot of them are .How they interact make Tiger what he is. There is a confluence in his brain, his person, his world, his goals and beliefs, his culture. He has all the aces.

For Tiger, it was a high performance zone powerfully orchestrated with the support of a supreme mentor, in his dad. Sadly Tiger was unable to sustain ‘ The Zone’  after the passing of his dad in 2006.

The 90/10 Zone demands focus – where 90% of the focus is placed on:

The Right Stuff.

There can be no doubting that Chad le Clos put everything into his physical preparation for Rio 2016 , but the challenging situation he faced , with both his parents battling cancer , would have made it near impossible to come close to the 90/10 zone– from the mental preparation side .

That’s the human factor. It plays a huge role – as we are what we are – human emotional beings.

When pushed by reporters to explain why he did not return with the two gold medals which he had prepared for, Chad had only this to say:

No excuses. That would be disrespectful of Michael Phelps

It’s the same in any other sport. Golfers, who go through a personal challenge such as divorce, find it near impossible to enter the zone – let alone strike the ball with any type of consistency.

When asked to define his cricketing success, Sachin Tendulkar , who scored more test runs than anyone, had this to say :

Still head. Speed of wrists

Sachin Tedulkar was alluding to far more than just holding one’s head still at the crease.

Hats off to Chad le Clos. For him to come back with two silver medals speaks mountains of the man who stands behind his family and his country – and he’s only twenty four .

He displayed all the C’s of a great champion in :

Challenge , Culture, Character , Capability, Courage, Consistence, Confidence , Control , Certainty , Creativity, Concentration , Commitment , Contribution , Connection, Charisma, Class and Camaraderie

He has all the aces . The mind set to conquer the world . And a dash of humor too.

Every cloud has silver lining – pun intended : Chad le Clos on returning to his Durban home.  __________________________________________________________________________________

ROBO COP 3Rob Opie is a Brand Strategist, Speaker, Author and Performance Coach to Business executives, Corporate teams, Sports teams and Individuals.

  • Rob’s latest book: The Game Changers: Good to Great to Greater is available FREE to readers as an instant digital download on his site :