Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
27 Jul 2017
3:42 pm

Five reasons why we should celebrate Cameron van der Burgh

Wesley Botton

The swimming stalwart might not always attract the star power of some of his compatriots but he's undoubtedly a South African legend.

Cameron van der Burgh. Photo: François-Xavier Marit/AFP.

Though he would be up against some strong opposition for the No 1 spot, Cameron van der Burgh is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s most successful swimmers.

Also read: Tears flow after Chad le Clos claims world gold

At the age of 29, here are five reasons why he has already established his place among the country’s all-time sporting elite.

World Championships dominance

A 10-time medallist at the World Aquatics Championships, the powerhouse from Pretoria won the global 50m breaststroke title in 2009 and 2013.

Aside from his unprecedented sixth career medal in the sprint discipline at the biennial showpiece in Budapest on Wednesday night, he has also bagged four medals in the 100m contest.

No other South African swimmer has been as successful at the long-course spectacle


Van der Burgh has been competing at the highest level for more than 10 years.

Since 2007 he has racked up six medals at both the Commonwealth Games and the World Short-Course Championships, six gold medals at the African Games and three overall crowns at the short-course World Cup series

Record performances

In 2009 he set a world record for the first time when he clocked 27.06 in the 50m breaststroke at the national championships, and in 2012 he set a global best of 58.46 over the 100m distance.

Though British swimmer Adam Peaty has gone on to lower both marks, Van der Burgh’s African record over two lengths still stands and he has reduced the continental mark in the shorter event by another 0.52.

He also still holds the world short course 50m (25.25) and 100m (55.61) breaststroke records which he set in Berlin nearly eight years ago

Olympic glory

Along with Chad le Clos (one gold and three silver in 2012 and 2016), Penny Heyns (two gold and one bronze in 1996 and 2000) and Roland Schoeman (gold, silver and bronze in 2004), Van der Burgh is one of South Africa’s most decorated Olympians in the pool.

Despite being confined to a specialist stroke, he holds one gold and one silver from the 2012 and 2016 Games

Standing tall

In a relatively dark era for South African swimming, with little depth, Van der Burgh and Le Clos have managed to keep the sport in the limelight by carrying the code in recent years.

Without much support to back them in major campaigns, they have both managed to keep the flag flying at global level and motivate potential young prospects to take up the sport

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