Chad le Clos must reportedly swim through injury if he is to take gold at a fourth consecutive world championships next week.
The South African swimmer learned he has a groin hernia that may need surgery after worlds in South Korea that start Sunday, according to the Times of South Africa.
Le Clos, a 27-year-old who beat Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 Olympics, said the injury is 10 years old, but it’s given him more trouble than usual the last six weeks, according to the report.
“I’ve been pushing off the wall at 70 percent, 80 percent max in training,” he said, according to the Times. “It’s only [sore] when I push off the wall, not actually when I kick.”
Le Clos’ condition will make it all the tougher in the 100m and 200m butterflies.
In the 100m, le Clos missed a chance at a third straight world title in 2017 when he failed to make the final. He ranks third in the world this year behind defending champion Caeleb Dressel and Frenchman Mehdy Metella.
Le Clos is the defending world champ in the 200m but ranks eighth in the world this year, more than two seconds shy of Hungarians Kristof Milak and Tamas Kenderesi.
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