Cameron Van Der Burgh took bronze in the 100m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: David Gray/Reuters
Racing to his third consecutive 50 metres breaststroke title at the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, South African swimming superstar Cameron van der Burgh proved he is far from reaching his sell-by date.

Van der Burgh has shown incredible longevity by reaping medals for South Africa for more than a decade, since making his senior debut at the 2007 Melbourne World Long-course Championships.

His victory at the Gold Coast Games ranks as one of his greatest achievements, as he beat man of the moment and world record-holder Adam Peaty of England.

“I never go into racing looking for a bronze medal and to come away with gold is super, super, just like a career highlight,” Van der Burgh said.

“Obviously to beat the world’s best  the world record-holder  it is kind of nice. And to come full circle where I beat the world record-holder as a youngster to myself becoming the world record-holder; you then lose it and you come up again and beat them.”

The duo has been locked in a fierce battle since Peaty usurped Van der Burgh of his 100m breaststroke titles at the 2014 Glasgow Games and the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Peaty has been surrounded by an air of invincibility since becoming the first man to go below 58 seconds in the 100m breaststroke, breaking Van der Burgh’s world record with a time of 57.92 in 2015.

Van der Burgh’s performance is even more impressive considering he is juggling his swim career and growing his sports and marketing consultancy business, Touch58.

“I have a business down in Cape Town, I swim in the morning, and do gym in the evening,” Van der Burgh said.

Cameron Van Der Burgh swims on his way to winning the gold at the men's 50m breaststroke final at the Aquatic Centre during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Rick Rycroft/AP Photo

“At the Commonwealth Games the focus was always on the 50m breaststroke but I still did really well in the 100m, and I was happy with the time.

“The goal is to maintain the fitness and to remain competitive in the 100m until Tokyo and looking forward to get that gold medal there.”

Van der Burgh has his sights on a record-breaking feat at the Tokyo Games where he hopes to become the first 100m breaststroker to win three medals at three consecutive Olympics.

The 29-year-old will soon add married life to his balancing act as he will tie the knot with fiancée Nefeli Valakelis in Greece in July.

“I was laughing because normally you would be training for August for your big competition and now I am training for a beach party for the wedding so that I can at least look good in the photos,” Van der Burgh said.

“The wedding is going to be in Athens, and it is going to be real nice as we're having about 140 mates coming from South Africa for a full week-long wedding involving everyone.”

After the wedding, Van der Burgh will focus on the FINA World Short-Course Championships in China in December where he will be defending his 50m breaststroke title.

“I will definitely go to the World Short-Course Champs. I love a bit of short-course; it is a great opportunity to break some world records there,” the swimmer said.

“That is something I definitely like to target. I will hit the gym quite hard until then and obviously pick up the swimming as we get closer.

“December is obviously a long way away and we have a long time to get into that groove.

“The way that I felt now and the way my body felt, was looking and reacting, I am very excited to be able to exploit that in the short-course.”

Van der Burgh holds both the world short-course 50m and 100m breaststroke records of 25.25 seconds and 55.61 which he set in Berlin in 2009.


Saturday Star

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