Durban – Olympic gold medallist Cameron Van der Burgh is taking time out from his swimming schedule to refocus before he begins his build-up to the defence of his 100 metres breaststroke title at the 2016 Games in Rio.
Van der Burgh, 24, received a late call-up to play in the Gary Player Invitational Pro-am at Zimbali Country Club, in Durban, on Thursday, and he spoke about his efforts outside the swimming pool.
“I'm flying low at the moment. I'm just enjoying post Olympic success, and soaking it in and trying to be normal for a change,” said Van der Burgh.
“When you start up your process of training for the next Olympics, you really have to focus and there's not really a lot of time for things like golf. You have to train.
“I'll start getting back into training in January.”
The next four years would be geared towards the next quadrennial showpiece, Van der Burgh said, and he explained the process he needed to follow to achieve his goals.
“My long term goal would be the 2016 Olympics, and targetting gold again where I'll be defending champion,” he said.
“I think it's expected that we go, and I'm really excited about going.
“I just have to sit down with my coaches and make some plans.
“There are some short-term goals you need to have to get there, like the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, but in the bigger picture the Olympics is always the main thing.”
While he will not turn out in the main 36-hole Gary Player tournament starting on Saturday, Van der Burgh relished the chance to rub shoulders with some of his heroes.
“For me to be invited to an event like this is such a great honour, to rub shoulders with such big sporting celebrities.”
At one point on Wednesday evening he approached Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish for an autograph.
“Sometimes for me it's funny to go out there and feel a little bit nervous. I know how it feels,” he said.
“At the end of the day we're all just people, and he's just a normal guy like everybody else.”
For Van der Burgh, meeting nine-time Major champion Gary Player, at the SA legend's charity event, was a memorable experience.
“They gave me a call two nights ago and asked me if I could come down for the pro-am and I was more than willing.
“I'm just so excited to be here and meet people like Gary Player. It's about paying it forward for such a great initiative.
“It was the first time I met Gary and it was such an honour. We spoke about how amazing technology is – his dad had to phone every few hours to find out scores and that was the only way. These days you watch live on television.
“Sharing stories with him like that is priceless.” – Sapa