As a huge fan of South African sport and especially the Olympics and the Commonwealth games, there is one name that every South African sports lover knows and that is Chad le Clos.
Who will ever forget that gold medal in the 200m butterfly edging out the two-time defending Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
His father said it – unbelievable!
The good news for Capetonians was the announcement that he has opened the Chad Le Clos Academy (CLeC) at the Quadrant Complex in Claremont, with a view to opening a world class swimming academy.
I was delighted to see a very special friend involved in the academy as one of the coaches.
In 2016, I was asked by Hermann Steyn of the SA Transplant Sports Association, to speak at the capping function of the team about to head off to Argentina to represent South Africa.
It was such a moving experience for me to see people who had often knocked on death’s door dressed in their Protea colours and ready to do battle with the best in the world.
In the group I addressed that day was a young swimmer called Lisa du Plessis. She has received a kidney transplant only two years previously after a diagnosis of renal failure in 2006 and here she was on her way to the World Transplant Games.
It had not been an easy time for her. Fortunately, her sister-in-law was found to be a match and she received her new kidney.
Lisa had always been a swimmer and enjoyed team sports and is competitive in nature. The team competed in Argentina and ended third out of 44 countries, a fantastic result. Lisa entered four events and brought home 4 gold medals and broke three world records and went on to become sportswoman of the year.
Now regarded as a lucky mascot I was again asked to speak at their 2017 capping ceremony as they were on their way to Malaga in Spain for the World Transplant Games.
Again, Lisa was a star. This time swimming in 5 events, she won 5 gold medals and the award for the most outstanding athlete of the games.
So what is the link between Lisa and Chad?
As her love for swimming grew, Lisa had joined Swim Smart in Claremont as a stroke correction coach. Which organisation did Chad pick to partner with and start the CleC Academy. You guessed it, Swim Smart.
When Lisa was diagnosed with renal failure it was a difficult time, but thanks to her donor and an attitude of hope and lots of hard work, she now works along side one of our South African sporting heroes.
Maybe I should rephrase that. Two of South Africa’s sporting heroes working side by side.
Unbelievable! Welcome to Cape Town, Chad le Clos.