Though he admits his efforts could be stunted without full-strength relay teams, Chad le Clos hopes to target a record career haul at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in April.
Le Clos, who earned a total of 12 medals at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth spectacles, needs six more to equal the overall Games record of 18 podium places held by sport shooters Phil Adams of Australia and Mick Gault of England.
The absence of Zane Waddell and Chris Reid, who did not return from the US for the national trials, and Leith Shankland, who achieved the required qualifying standard, could push his attempt beyond reach.
Le Clos, however, said he remained eager to chase at least four medals in individual disciplines – the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly and the 200m freestyle.
“I’m not sure about the 100m freestyle because it comes just before the 200m fly,” he said on the sidelines of the recent Discovery Triathlon World Cup race in Cape Town.
“I’ve entered, but truth be told I might scratch just before.”
Le Clos had even offered to give up his 100m freestyle spot, in order for another swimmer to be included in the team, and had offered to cover the costs to take full-strength relay contingents for the 4x100m freestyle and medley events, but he had been told by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) that they were restricted by international entry limits.
“We always step up in the relays, so for us not to be taking our best team, which will give us such a good shot, it’s sad,” he said.
Despite battling with a groin injury which restricted his training last month, Le Clos said he was in good shape after expanding his strength-based pre-season programme.
Lining up among the favourites over all three distances in the butterfly stroke, he also felt he could put up a fight in the 200m freestyle after snatching the silver medal in the event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I don’t think I’m the best 200 freestyler in the group. I think I’m probably fourth or fifth best,” Le Clos admitted.
“But I believe I’m a lot tougher than those boys and I believe with the game plan, with the experience, I feel I can maybe cause another upset like in Rio.”