Le Clos beats his “inspiration” Phelps

Team SA's Chad le Clos beat USA's Michael Phelps to win gold in the men's 200m butterfly final.

Chad le Clos with his gold medal after winning the 200m butterfly final in the Olympics. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - There was more Olympic glory on Tuesday, as Durban-born Chad le Clos became the second South African gold medalist when he won the men's 200m butterfly final.

It was an emotional night for the 20-year-old who could barely contain himself on the podium.

His win came just days after Cameron van der Burgh took gold in the men's 100m breastroke final on Sunday.

Many predicted that a medal of any colour for le Clos would have been a phenomenal achievement.

But instead of fighting for any spot on the podium, he chased down Michael Phelphs to win Team SA's second gold medal of the London Games.

He touched the pool wall at 1:52.96, while the world swimming great touched at 1:53.01 in a packed Aquatics Centre.

The American won his 19th Olympic medal an hour later to become the greatest Olympian of all time.

Le Clos was overcome with emotions and had tears running down his cheeks during the singing of the national anthem.

When he addressed the media after his win, le Clos said: "I'll be honest. I didn't really think I was going to win the race. I'm proud to be here and to have achieved what I achieved."

When asked how it felt to beat the swimming great, he said: "The race for me was more than an Olympic final."

Le Clos said Phelps had always been an "inspiration and role model" to him.

"Just swimming next to him was an honour.

"I've watched his races a million times… the legacy he has left behind is fantastic… hopefully one day I could try to do something similar and be a role model to young kids like he was to me."

The young man also spoke about his country and family, saying their support and his father's continuous words of wisdom encouraged him to chase his dream of becoming an Olympic champion.

Le Clos' coach of 11 years Graham Hilll said they analysed Phelps thoroughly as part of le Clos' training regime.

He said the win proved the swimmer took the lessons in and practiced them well.

The coach said Tuesday's gold medal win meant as much to him as it did to le Clos.

"He's like a son to me. His win is very special and emotional".

For South Africa, Chad's win meant two medals down and 10 more to go to reach the target of 12.

Following his son's incredible achievement in the swimming pool, Burt le Clos said he was overcome with emotion.

He said he was crying in the stands hoping his son would make it to the top three.

Meanwhile, double gold Olympian Penny Heyns said it was amazing what hard work and dedication could do.

She said prior to these Games, it was hard to believe anyone could beat Phelps.

"Chad proved that if you have a big dream and you train really hard… it doesn't matter who you're racing, anything is possible."