at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh welled up with tears as he tried to describe the emotions he felt when he stood on the podium at Sunday night's victory ceremony at the London Olympic Games.
“It was so difficult for me and I’ve thought of that moment for so many years of my life,” Van der Burgh said on Monday.
“To hear Chariots of Fire going through, standing on the podium, was the biggest moment of my life.”
Van der Burgh blew his competitors out the water, winning the men's 100m breaststroke final in a world record time of 58.46 seconds.
“So this is how it feels to be an Olympic champion. It is really humbling,” he said.
“I woke up this morning and it was sort of like I had a brand new baby.
“It’s something that I’m going to carry for the rest of my life. It is something I will have to be responsible with.
“I am going to have to adapt my lifestyle to this kind of thing, just like having a kid.”
Van der Burgh led the race from start to finish, followed home by Christian Sprenger of Australia and American Brendan Hansen.
“I’m really grateful for everything. I reached for the stars last night,” he said.
“Fourteen years of hard work and dedication Ä it paid off in 58.4 seconds, and it’s definitely the perfect ending to my story.”
The 24-year-old said he still had to get to grips with all the attention he was receiving, but he did not believe his new-found fame would change him as a person.
“It’s been so weird for me that everybody wants to take pictures, but for me, I did what I could do, and I was lucky enough to come out the best,” he said.
“I still feel like I am the same guy. I don’t feel any different in the sense that I am better than anyone else.
“It’s just that what I have achieved can be celebrated.”
Sharing the magical moment with loved ones, according to Van der Burgh, was the cherry on top.
“Last night I was fortunate enough that I could spend the night with friends and family afterwards,” he said.
“I think half of them were a little bit intoxicated by the time I got there.
“It was celebrations non-stop and I think true happiness is enjoyed when it is shared with people that you love.” – Sapa