Posted on August 10, 2016
Cameron van der Burgh won South Africa's first medal at the Olympic Games in Rio early on Monday morning when he finished second in the 100-metre breaststroke.
The final was a classic scenario of brute strength and speed versus pure guts, with Britain's Adam Peaty and Van der Burgh as the two main protagonists. It was Peaty who prevailed in the end, winning in a world record time of 57,13 seconds. Van der Burgh was second in 58,69 s and Cody Miller of the USA was third in 58,87 s.
Before the race, Van der Burgh (Tuks/hpc) predicted: 'It is going to take a world record to win the gold medal at the Games.' The South African's prediction proved to be spot on.
Peaty clearly took Van der Burgh's words to heart. He gave an awesome display of power and dominated the 100-metre breaststroke in a way that has seldom been seen at the Games. Peaty opened his campaign by winning his heat in a world record time of 57,55 s. In the semi-finals, he just missed setting another world record, winning in 57,62 s.
In the final, Peaty immediately took the lead by being the fastest out of the starting blocks. He never relented and, stroke by stroke, he pulled away from his competitors throughout the race to win by a body length. It has been quite a few years since an Olympic final has been won by more than a second.
The Tuks/hpc swimmer deserves to be complimented for the dogged way in which he fought right up to the finish to take the silver medal. 'I cannot say that I am disappointed,' said Van der Burgh, the defending champion and gold medallist of four years ago, in a television interview. 'Coming into the final, I knew I did not have a 57-second race in me. I have a few issues with my stroke and I am not connecting properly with the kick and pull. But I also knew that if Adam made some mistakes I would be right there. He did not, and well done to him; he swam incredibly well. But silver is a nice colour too and I am proud to add it to my collection.
'Peaty is a great competitor. We have had a great rivalry going over the past three years and I can honestly say that he has spurred me on. Together we have taken breaststroke to new heights. If we had told somebody beforehand that we would be swimming these times, I do not think they would have believed us. We have pushed each other and learned from each other,' said the Tuks/hpc swimmer.
Chad le Clos has qualified for the 200-m freestyle final, swimming 1:45,94. China's Sun Yang set the fastest time in the semi-finals, swimming in 1:44,63.
South Africa's Myles Brown could only finish sixth in his semi-final, swimming in 1:46,78.
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