Le Clos, 20, won the 200-metre butterfly swimming event in an amazing 1min 52.96sec, beating American Olympic legend Michael Phelps into second spot in a nail-biting race to the wall.
KwaZulu-Natal based Le Clos now joins Team SA’s as an Olympic gold medalist after Van der Burgh won gold in the 100m breaststroke on Sunday night.
South Africa has now already improved on their showing at the last Games in Beijing, where they won just one medal, Khotso Mokoena’s silver in the long jump.
SASCOC Chief Executive Officer Tubby Reddy said as the nation celebrated young Le Clos’s victory: “Now that we’ve already got two medals after just four days of competition, I have no doubt that this double success is going to motivate the rest of the team to even greater heights.”
Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, who witnessed Le Clos’s victory, said: “We are proud of who we are… the African skies took over the British skies the day SAA landed with our athletes. The flood gates are open.”
Mbalula extended his stay in London by a few hours to personally witness Le Clos bag the second gold medal for the country and to congratulate him for the feat.
Mbalula re-emphasised that Ernie Els’s win at the British Open and Hashim Amla setting a new SA record, served as a motivation for the SA athletes.
“We are truly the grandchildren of Nelson Mandela and we are worthy of gold,” said Mbalula.
He further wished the SA Olympians all the best for the rest of the competition and encouraged them to go for the medals, saying South Africa’s moment had come.
South Africa won two medals at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the first Games since re-admission to the international sporting world.
With the Games only into their fourth day, hopes are now high that they can match and even improve on their Sydney 2000 (five medals) and Athens 2004 (six medals) record.