At the current count, Michael Phelps has 19 gold medals. Chad Le Clos has one. Of course, Phelps, possibly the greatest olympian ever, is seven years older than the the South African swimmer, and started competing in the Olympics before Le Clos was even 10 years old. So yes, Phelps does have some time and experience and a whole lot of medals on his young rival, and nobody would fault Le Clos to be a cocky young upstart instead of simply crumbling at the site of the man he says is his hero. Instead, Le Clos tried to get into his competition’s head, something Phelps was ready for long before they jumped into the water.
“He does his thing, I do my thing,” he said before the race.
Apparently, the thing Phelps was talking about, his “thing,” is just staring at his competition like he’s holding something very bad inside of him from coming out. Like he’s doing us all a favor by just being calm and not flipping out like he’d really like to do. And frankly, it’s kind of scary.
But Phelps wasn’t the only one doing the staring. During the 200m butterfly, Le Clos somehow came in 3rd place behind Phelps and the first place finisher, Hungary’s Tamás Kenderesi, while seemingly paying more attention to what his American competition was doing than the race itself. Like Le Clos saw it as a race between just two men. It was a little weird, also pretty awesome to watch at the same time, and of course had all of Twitter shooting off things about #Phelpsface.