Kolkata: Ahead of his much-anticipated clash with swimming sensation Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics, Chad Le Clos said that he's the best out there and is busy fine-tuning his skills for the biggest week of his life.
The South African created ripples in 200m butterfly at London Olympics after snatching a fifth gold from the American superstar who later ended his career only to return to Rio in what will be a second swansong for the 31-year-old.
"Mentally, I believe I'm the strongest athlete out there. Not a lot can break me," the 24-year-old Le Clos told PTI in an email interview, ahead of his much-hyped 200m butterfly duel against Phelps.
"It will be a lot different to how it was in London. I feel like I almost have a target on my back. Coming into the Olympic Games in London, I was an underdog. I wasn't really given a shot. So it was almost like I had no pressure coming into the event.
"What changes now is that there's a lot of media hype around me. But I think I've learned to deal with all sorts of pressures. I've prepared myself in ways that no one else has," he added.
Le Clos' rivalry with his one-time idol has taken the sport to a new height and the latest swimming sensation said he's shifting into sixth gear to finish hard into the wall (touchpad).
"You have to go through the gears. A car has five gears, but you almost have to push into 6th gear and get that final burst of speed. In practice and in butterfly especially, I'm always finishing with my head down and into the wall."
"Obviously at the Olympic Games in 2012 there were some very tight races, especially the famous one against Michael Phelps. What I've been working for this year is tweaking the small things. It's been all about sharpening my tools and getting ready for the biggest week of my life."
"We've mastered the details of doing the long mileage and putting in the hard yards. Now, it's all about fine-tuning my starts, fine-tuning my turns, and making sure that I'm finishing right on a full stroke," he added.
A brand ambassador of OMEGA since 2011, he said the luxury Swiss brand was part of his family since his grandfather's days.
Terming it a special relationship, he said, "It's actually 80 years. My grandfather would be 103 or 104 today. He had that watch for many years and it's still in the family. I felt like it was destiny when I signed with the brand," he said adding that he would be sporting his favorite Seamaster Planet Ocean.
OMEGA is the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games since 1932.