Parents' health is Le Clos' priority
Parents' cancer fight made it a difficult year for swim star
He owns one Olympic gold and three silvers, which makes swimmer Chad le Clos the most bemedalled South African athlete in the history of the Games.
Only 24, the promise is of more to come at the 2020 Olympics, and possibly beyond.
Le Clos loves racing, and winning, especially when he goes up against the likes of Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling, but he would give it all up in exchange for his parents' health.
The former Youth Olympic champion was his usual confident and friendly self during a meet-and-greet session at the Kallang Wave Mall yesterday, ahead of the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup Singapore competition, which will be held at the OCBC Aquatic Centre over the next two days.
Speaking to The New Paper after his flight in from South Africa early yesterday morning, le Clos said: "It has been a difficult year... my dad had his prostate removed three months before the Olympics, so he's doing all right now.
"But my mum is still struggling with breast cancer, and has just done her last round of chemotherapy two weeks ago.
"Of course, it is more important to have your parents' health than winning medals."
With his parents' health weighing on his mind, le Clos took the plunge at the Rio Olympics in August and clinched silvers in the men's 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle, while finishing fourth in the 200m butterfly.
The 100m butterfly race was epic, especially for Singapore's Schooling, who won the country's first Olympic gold medal with a storming performance.
History was also made when Phelps, le Clos and Hungary's Laszlo Cseh all shared second spot.
With Phelps now retired, le Clos welcomes the prospect of a rivalry with Schooling over the next few years.
He said: "Phelps is gone, he was the big draw. But you have to create rivalries to make yourself big, because swimming is not the biggest (sport) out there, especially in South Africa...
"I think it's down to creating a hype for the sport."
Le Clos will set up his own swimming academy early next year, with the aim of "revolutionising" the sport and building worldwide franchises from 2018 onwards.
While he ultimately wants to help lift the sport and unearth raw gems in his country, he admitted that the academy will initially be used for "selfish" reasons.
The South African star, who recently split from long-time coach Graham Hill, revealed that he is looking to get "five or six" elite swimmers to train at his club, as well as to bring in a coach.
"I am looking for someone who is passionate about swimming, who believes in me and will take me to greater heights," he said.
"It doesn't matter if he is young or old, the most important thing is that he is willing to learn and is hungry for success."
Le Clos on...
...JOSEPH SCHOOLING BEATING HIM TO WIN THE MEN'S OLYMPIC 100M BUTTERFLY
I was very surprised (with the final), obviously I went into the race thinking that I could win, but he smacked us out of the water.
I wouldn't say he caught us off-guard, but he definitely stunned us a bit.
...A RIVALRY WITH SCHOOLING AFTER THE RETIREMENT OF MICHAEL PHELPS
For the next six or seven years (we will have a great rivalry)... and I am very excited about that.
I am also very excited about the 100m fly next year (at the World Championships).
I'd like to beat him there, of course.
...ON HIS ADMIRATION FOR CRISTIANO RONALDO
I like his attitude. He works really hard.
He is the first at practice and last to leave.
Some people say that he is arrogant but I feel like he is really good with the fans.
He is really charitable and I have a lot of respect for that.