Michael Phelps’ “Phelps Face” target at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Chad Le Clos, is dealing with something a lot more serious than Phelps’ dressing room death stare face. From Chad’s high level Olympic performance against long time rival Phelps, you’d never guess he’s got some big worries on his mind. Le Clos is at the Rio Olympics with both of his parents, who flew from South Africa to be with their son for what may be the last time. Fans are rooting for the “brilliantly over the top” Bert, and hoping that his son can win gold one more time.
USA Today reports how Bert Le Clos, Chad’s father, became a star during the 2012 Olympics, when Chad beat Michael in an incredibly close 200-meter butterfly race. Le Clos stunned the American swimmer when he won the race with with a mere five-hundredths of a second.
That loss for Phelps left its mark, and made him even more determined to win this time around at the 2016 Olympics. The Phelps face glare in the dressing room before the Rio 200-meter butterfly semi-finals says it all.
The 2012 loss for Phelps was a huge win for Le Clos, and Bert showed what a super proud dad he is as he realized Chad was the gold medal winner. Bert started screaming from the stands and unashamedly let the tears just keep streaming down his face as he repeatedly exclaimed “unbelievable” while watching the younger Le Clos celebrate his win in the pool. Later in a BBC interview, Bert was too happy to keep his voice down and started yelling excitedly as he expressed his huge beaming love for his son. Followers around the world think Bert is beautiful, and one Twitter user said he is “heavenly.”
“He’s my son. Look at him, he’s beautiful. I love him.”
Now, the fun-loving family who aren’t afraid to let the world see their closeness are staring into the face of something far more frightening than Phelps’ face.
“Big Bert,” known to friends as a big, loud, fun guy, “isn’t so big and isn’t so loud anymore.” Chad found out right before he left for a pre-Olympic training camp that his dad is very ill, and has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. That’s not all the bad news for the Le Clos family. Chad’s mom Geraldine is also struggling with cancer. There’s lots of sympathy from well-wishers who remember Bert from the last Olympics.
Shortly before the Rio Olympics, Chad released a statement to bring fans up-to-date on the difficult situation. According to IOL News, he confirmed that both Bert and Geraldine are fighting cancer, and said he hoped that his parents would be well enough to make it to Rio to cheer him on again.
Chad’s hope materialized, and both of the Le Clos parents were there to see him as he nearly pulled off a gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle final. Bert was as proudly excited and emotional as ever as he watched the stunning outcome of Le Clos’ second place finish, and Team South Africa’s second medal of the 2016 Olympics.
Bert took to Twitter to express some of what he so obviously felt. “So proud of my boy tonight,” he wrote with a pic of himself and Geraldine poolside, along with his trademark “unbelievable,” in all caps to make sure everyone got the message.
Le Clos followers are happy that Bert is happy.
Everyone is hoping that Chad can give Bert one last gold during the 2016 Olympics, and it looks like the opportunity will be at the hugely anticipated butterfly final Tuesday night in Rio.
[Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images]