Le Clos relives London 2012 as he helps drive Energy Standard to Las Vegas
Chad Le Clos wins MVP award after emotional 200m butterfly victory as Florent Manaudou steers Energy Standard to victory over London Roar in the final event as both teams book a trip to the International Swimming League grand final in Las Vegas.
Chad le Clos evoked memories of the 2012 Olympics after he helped guide Energy Standard to a final-race victory to book their place in the grand final of the International Swimming League in Las Vegas.
The South African won the 200m butterfly in the same lane five from which he inflicted a shock defeat upon Michael Phelps at the London Aquatics Centre seven years ago, tonight’s victory steering him to the MVP award by the narrowest of margins from team-mate Sarah Sjostrom.
It was the last race before the skins events - back-to-back, knockout 50m freestyle races which culminate in two swimmers in a head-to-head final – with three races in six minutes determining the final outcome as Energy Standard overhauled London Roar to win by nine points with 467.5pts.
Essentially it came down to the fact that Florent Manaudou, who won the 50m freestyle title in this very pool at the 2012 Olympics, reached the final and Duncan Scott, of London Roar, did not.
Both teams progress to the grand final at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center from 20-21 December with Team Iron (369.5pts) and Aqua Centurions (333.5pts) left to ponder.
For Le Clos, individual and team victory brought back special memories of that night in July 2012.
He said: “It was a really emotional night for me because I had my dad in the crowd, my family."
“I had the same emotions walking out hearing the crowd because it was very loud tonight. It brought out a similar race: I was touching behind at the 150. I just closed my eyes, bit my tongue and counted to 10. I came off the last wall thankfully ahead and put my head down."
“It was almost like a magic night because if that was any other pool I would probably have lost that race."
“I was holding back the tears walking out because it brings back such special memories because the call room is the same and I remember all those sensations of walking out, Phelps was behind me, walking through and seeing the crowd. It was really beautiful.”
Le Clos took the MVP award with 44.5pts as one point separated the top three with Sjostrom and Emma McKeon, of London Roar, a fingernail behind.
He said: “I wanted to win the MVP for a long time. I was really lucky tonight winning by half a point – almost like 2012 when I won by this much (indicates small amount)."
“I felt like I was destined to win tonight because of that. A little lucky but I am very happy with the team’s win which is much more important than the MVP."
“We have got a lot of things to work on for the final. Me personally I am going to have to get faster and shave down and rest. It is going to be very close because London were not at their full strength – Kyle Chalmers coming in would have probably made a huge difference."
“So we know it’s going to be tough so let’s see what happens.”
Adam Peaty won the 100m breaststroke, a day after finishing second in the 200m which followed his fourth place in the 50m in his opening event.
He said: “Don’t get me started on the 50. Short course for me is difficult at times but when I am in hard training I lose my legs."
“It’s good for the sport and its good for me and it keeps e on my toes. Every time I lose I come back even faster so I will use as a fuel now and use that to hopefully polish up into Vegas seeing as we have made it now.”
The Olympic 100m breaststroke champion also featured in the mixed 4x100m freestyle – all about being a team member, he said.
“That is what it is. ISL isn’t an individual sport: it s a team sport so I stepped up when I needed to step up and got the job done as well as I could.”
Some of the races were like a who’s who of international racing with the women’s 4x100m medley relay at the end of the first session a case in point.
Five-time Olympic medallist Cate Campbell went head to head with Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who won double sprint freestyle gold in this very pool in 2012, on the anchor leg as London Roar claimed first and third, sandwiching Team Iron.
Double points for relays meant London Roar leapfrogged Energy Standard to lead by 10 points going into the second session in front of a raucous home crowd.
So the tussle between the two continued with 10.5pts the deficit going into the third period although Energy Standard’s sprinting depth meant the Roar needed to build a substantial lead going into the skins.
The hosts were ahead going into the skins which Kromowidjojo won in a head-to-head with Sjostrom.
It meant the Roar had a 1.5pt lead going into the men’s event and although Scott was one of the four to progress from the first race, he just missed out on the final.
Vladimir Morozov of Team Iron won the final against Manaudou whose presence in the last two was the clincher for Energy Standard.
Source: International Swimming League
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About the ISL: The International Swimming League is a global professional swimming competition launching in 2019 with teams in both Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and London Roar) and the United States (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers). The inaugural season will include matches in Indianapolis IN, Naples ITA, Lewisville TX, Budapest HUN, College Park MD, London GBR, and the championship finale at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. The ISL aims to create groundbreaking projects, in both form and content, exploring the full potential of competitive swimming while securing sustainable commercial growth in the sport.