‘I was super depressed’: Chad Le Clos on Pre-Tokyo Trauma and Recovery

Chad le Clos (photo: Mike Lewis)
Chad le Clos; Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

‘I was super depressed’: Chad Le Clos on Pre-Tokyo Trauma and Recovery

Chad le Clos underwent a traumatic experience in January 2021, something that clouded his Olympic experience in Tokyo. It’s only now that he’s opening up about that experience and seeking help in the aftermath.

Le Clos revealed the struggles in an interview with South African outlet The New Frame. He did not disclose the nature of the event or circumstances, saying only: “It’s something I’ll never talk about because it’s not for anybody else to know. But it was something so deep, it was worse than my parents having cancer and this was worse for them.”

Le Clos said the traumatic experience combined with other factors to weigh him down in 2021. Those included a shift in sponsorship dollars and the shifting currents of attention in South African swimming. Le Clos, then 29, finished fifth in the men’s 200 fly. He didn’t escape the heats of the 100 fly, an event in which he’d won silver in consecutive Olympics.

It wasn’t until after the Tokyo Olympics that le Clos sought professional help, a delay which he now regrets.

“I only started to speak to someone after the Olympics – biggest mistake of my life – and I started getting myself right again. I was in a dark place, even after the Olympics,” he said. “I was super depressed.

There were times where I was sitting in my room just crying by myself. I didn’t know why I was like that. It genuinely wasn’t about the Olympics. It was about my future and about me… it felt like I had fallen such a long way from where I was in terms of who I was as a person. It really wasn’t about swimming.”

Le Clos is, in his worlds, “on my way back” now. He’s progressing in his therapy and he’s coming off an impressive showing in the South African Championships. His next goal is to become the most decorated athlete in Commonwealth Games history, needing two medals for that. He’s also got an eye toward the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I know I’m winning medals in two years’ time, I can promise you that,” le Clos said. “So I’m not worried about the future.”

Read the full story at The New Frame.

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