Well, I’d heard of Michael Phelps, but I’d never heard of Chad le Clos before yesterday’s final of the Olympic men’s 200 metres butterfly.
Previously, the Westville Boys High (Durban) graduate made his biggest mark at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore when he won five medals and was named the Daily News Spar Sports Person of the Year. But yesterday (just in case you’ve been holidaying on the moon) the young South African won his race in one minute 52.96 seconds, 0.05secs ahead of Phelps with Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda third.
The win was a deeply emotional moment for the young man as his spluttering Tweet reveals: “Hi Everyone thank you,thank you and thank you. I cannot express how i feel.”
For a moment he seemed phased by the adulation at the award ceremony, until the old hand Phelps standing on the step below him took the young man under his wing and showed him all the ropes … where to go next, where to look up and what to do. It was a tremendously gracious thing of Phelps to do – and a tremendous sporting moment in itself.
But Chad’s big, round, gruff Afrikaaner father … persuaded to be interviewed by ex-flat racing jockey Clare Balding … soon found a lot more words than his son to express how HE felt.
Overcome with pride Bert le Clos rapidly won us over with his big, gruff, passionate open hearted expression of pride … it was a performance to bring tears to the eyes!
With a broken voice strained by all the shouting he’d done during the race, Bert told Balding that he felt his life was now complete. ‘I have never been so happy in my life, it’s indescribable,’ he said.
‘Look at him, he’s beautiful’ Bert blurted out … before immediately pointing out how fat he looked himself!
Seven ‘unbelievable’s in 90 seconds!
“It’s like I have died and gone to heaven … Whatever happens in my life from now on is plain sailing … is this live? Sorry! Sorry!”
‘No – you’re fine!’ insisted Balding, reassuringly.
Of COURSE he was!
Not only was this brilliant television for any interviewer, this is what the Olympics are all about.
We really don’t want to see ever-so-pro athletes who calculatingly go for gold.
We want to see people like us that are beyond tearful when they get to the podium, and even more than that we want to see their ecstatic families who have sacrificed and paid for, helped and supported them on … I don’t know … the drive to the pool on wet mornings in Afrikaaner-land! This was brilliant television. I think I counted Bert using seven “unbelievable”s in 90 seconds … is that another record?
A father so proud and overjoyed … he simply doesn’t know what to say?
A father’s pride is something that can make a mug of most of us. We don’t usually choke or blub or ramble on. (No … we DON’T!)
We’re supposed to be the rock, the anchor for the team. The family’s understated local hero. Not given to uncontrolled, gushing verbal outbursts.
But how can a plain and mortal father bear such glorious pride and joy?!
The Father’s joyful outburst of unspeakable pride and joy
When the names are called and the victors step forward, and there are three young people standing there being watched by millions of people worldwide, and when the memories of a parent start to flood the eyes with unstoppable tears, swell the heart with unbearable pride and populate the mouth with unutterable gibberish … what grown man or woman can be expected to know what to do, what to say or where to put themselves?
Such an overwhelming episode makes loving parents lose control.
But when the roll is called up yonder … and I’m there …
When the proudest parent in Creation, Who made the game plan and has executed it knowing the outcome was always certain …
That parent as we stand there … as victors in His presence … will know exactly and precisely what He’s saying:
“… enter now the joy of your Lord.”