Top sportspersons have a very large fan following wherever they go. In most cases the fans comprise ordinary civilians but in some instances, they can also be celebrities from other fields - or sometimes even other sportspersons themselves.
That was the case with famed Olympian swimmer Chad le Clos, who recently recalled his fanboy moment with legendary Spaniard Rafael Nadal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
‘Can we take a picture?’ - Le Clos to Rafael Nadal
South African swimmer Chad le Clos was a superstar in his own right during the 2016 Rio Olympics. He had won the silver medal in both the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly, and to add to these laurels, the Protean had also won two medals at the 2012 London Olympics.
Le Clos beat his hero Michael Phelps to win the gold in the 200m butterfly in London, while also clinching silver in the 100m version of the same event.
Chad le Clos had in fact earned more Olympic medals than Spaniard Rafael Nadal (who has two) at that point, but was still in awe of the legendary tennis player. While speaking with MARCA Claro, Le Clos revealed how he came across Rafael Nadal at the Olympic village in 2016:
“I remember that in 2016 I was eating one day at the table, which is very long, and like a five or six meters from me was Rafael Nadal.”
The Olympic Village is known for bringing together sportspersons of all types from all over the world. Absolute legends of the sport like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Roger Federer and Andy Murray find themselves sharing space with rising stars such as Missy Franklin, Briana WIlliams, Michael Norman and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Close contact with legendary figures can often leave the lesser known athletes in awe and disbelief, and the same sentiment was echoed by Chad le Clos:
“I see him and I say: ‘It is not possible, it cannot be him. It is not really Rafael.’”
It was indeed none other than Rafael Nadal, who was also having his meal. The Spaniard was yet to win his gold medal at the doubles event at that point of time - his second medal, after clinching gold at the singles event in Beijing.
Chad le Clos couldn’t hide the fanboy in him as he went up to the 19-time Grand Slam champion in hopes of a picture. But the ace swimmer was too nervous to go up to him alone, and so took along his then coach Graham Hill.
Rafael Nadal, of course, obliged happily.
“So my coach and I approached him and said: ‘Excuse me, can we take a picture?' 'He says, 'Sure!' And obviously his Spanish accent is heard. We took a 'selfie' with him while we ate, it's crazy," Le Clos reminisced.Published 31 Jul 2020, 16:27 IST