#TuksSwimming: Cameron motivated to add another Games medal to his collection

Posted on August 05, 2016

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. This saying has been applicable to the swimming career of Cameron van der Burgh (Tuks/hpc). His 15 medals in ten years at the World Championships and the Olympic Games are proof of this. The ability to push himself to the limit when it really matters seems to come naturally to Van der Burgh.

With so many medals and magic moments to his credit, one might presume that Van der Burgh would find it difficult to single out just one highlight, but this is not the case. 'Winning the 100-m breaststroke at the 2012 Olympic Games in London in a world record time of 58,46 s is, without doubt, one of the proudest moments of my swimming career. I would say it was a life-changing moment.'

Just thinking back to that moment when he touched the wall to make South African swimming history still brings a big smile to Van der Burgh's face. This lingering memory has been his main motivation to push himself to be at his best for Saturday night, just after eight o' clock, when he will again line up to compete in the 100-m breaststroke.

The Tuks/hpc swimmer is driven to add another medal to his ever-growing collection. 'The fact that there is nothing higher to achieve does not mean that your hunger to win diminishes. The challenge for me is to see how many more races I can win before my career comes to an end.'

Apart from the 100-m breaststroke, Van der Burgh is also competing in the 200-m breaststroke (9 August) and the 4x100-m medley relay (12 August).

When asked what he remembers about his gold medal performance in 2012, Van der Burgh said he went to the pool a little bit early. 'I was stretching and warming up while listening to some music when I became aware that my heart rate was unnaturally high because of my excitement. Everything seemed to be racing at a hundred miles per hour. I had to stop what I was doing and force myself to calm down. Being in an Olympic final was just such a big thing. Listening to some John Legend music helped calm my nerves.

'I remember there being a medal ceremony just before we were due to race. As they handed the gold medal to the winner I remember thinking to myself that in five minutes' time I might receive an Olympic medal myself. I had to remember not to get ahead of myself but to live in the now and only focus on what I am able to control.

'The most important thing about winning an Olympic title is that it stays with you for life. World records get broken and sports fans don't seem to really care who the world champions were, but when you win a gold medal at the Games you are remembered as an Olympic champion forever after.'

Van der Burgh realises he is in for a tough challenge. Only one swimmer has ever succeeded in defending his Olympic 100-m breaststroke title since the 1968 Games in Mexico. Japan's Kosuke Kitajima won the gold medal at the 2004 Games in Athens, as well as in Beijing in 2008.


- Author Wilhelm de Swardt

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