South African golden boy Chad le Clos will be back, says his Team SA coach.
Le Clos came fourth as he attempted to defend his 200m butterfly Olympic title early on Wednesday morning.
And to rub it all in, he lost to the man he sensationally beat in 2012 – Michael Phelps, who stormed to the gold medal.
Between him and the American was the charging Japanese Masato Sakai, only four-hundredths of a second behind and Hungarian teenager Tamas Kenderesi third in 1:53.62.
Such are the tight margins at this level of sport.
Phelps claimed the 20th gold of his career and stamped himself as one of the greatest of all time when he cleaned up in the most anticipated head-to-head of Rio 2016 and finished the night with his 21st.
Coach Graham Hill said it was not Chad’s night and that Le Clos and Phelps will renew their rivalry today and tomorrow in the 100m butterfly.
Hill said: “At the 150m all was good, 1:23.3, that’s what we wanted it to be. But he didn’t have it in him to come home.
“Hats off though to Michael, he’s a true champion and he put on a big show… But we’ve still got the 100 ‘fly to come, and I’m sure [Chad] will be back and challenging on Friday night.”
With emotions running high after all the hype, it was hard to argue that Phelps had “owned” Le Clos in this particular race.
Chad’s dad Bert said his boy doesn’t cry when losing though.
He told Sport24: “The Le Clos only cry when we win. We don’t cry when we lose and that’s the bottom line.
“There are no excuses.
“He went 1.52 (1.52.96) in London and 1.54 (1.54.06) here. No excuses. It is what it is.”
* Meanwhile, Phelps has now racked up 25 Olympic medals. His quarter-century haul started at the 2004 Athens games.