Le Clos: Olympic delay tough as 'I'm in the shape of my life'
Olympic swimming champion Chad le Clos has urged fellow South Africans to "stay at home" and "stay active" in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Le Clos, 27, who won 200m butterfly gold at London 2012, says he is "in the shape of his life" and believed he was on target to add to his tally of four Olympic medals overall at the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed to 2021.
With a total lockdown set to take effect in South Africa on Thursday night, Le Clos said the "most important thing is just to be safe."
"The health of the people around the world is much more important than anything at the moment. I'm focusing on staying healthy, keeping my family healthy and isolating myself," said Le Clos.
"It definitely affects everyone. We were planning to race the national championships - the qualification round - so for me it was a little bit difficult because we had trained so hard.
"Now we've had a break, a forced break with the lockdown so it is a difficult thing because I'm currently in the shape of my life so definitely to lose that is going to be tough.
"You know you've got to make the right decisions and eat well, eat healthy and eat fresh. It is what it is - and it's the same boat for everyone."
South Africa has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa, currently at more than 700.
During the lockdown, South Africans will not be allowed to go out to even jog or walk dogs. Le Clos says it is vital to keep physically active during this time.
"If you're someone like me who likes to be active, there are many ways you can train and just stay healthy. Small things like a little bit of yoga, a little bit of stretching to get you going in the morning.
"If you like to do your weights, there are many heavy things you can pick up around the house to use as dumbbells and stuff like that. So for me, I'm just going to be doing body weights and luckily I have a medicine ball.
"I'm looking to get a stationary bike and do some cardio. But there are many ways you can stay healthy and active. You can run up the stairs if you have stairs, " Le Clos added.
"My message for South Africans is obviously to just stay at home. Wash your hands regularly. If you have any symptoms make sure that you call the line. And just be safe - that's the most important thing I can say. Look after your parents and your grandparents and just stay active also."
Chad Le Clos will now look to amend his training schedule after the Tokyo Olympics were delayed until next year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
"Mixed emotions definitely because I was preparing to be in the shape of my life come July this year. But obviously very difficult times for the world so the IOC made 100 per cent the right decision," said Le Clos.
"I'm hoping we can get a date for the Olympics soon and start preparing properly for it.
"A lot of my friends have called me and asked me about it and I've just said there's nothing you can really do. You can only embrace everything that's happening. And I look at it as a year of more training.
"A year of getting better. Whenever it is - if it's July or January or March, I'm preparing to be the best that I can at the Olympic Games and I'm not going to stop now.
"As soon as I'm allowed to go back in the water I'll be back. I'll be staying fit at home doing pushups, situps. And I'll most certainly be in the shape of my life whenever the Olympic Games is.
"Let's just beat this together and flatten the curve for sure."