Making his third and final appearance at the Commonwealth Games, breaststroke specialist Cameron van der Burgh hopes to return to the top of the podium at the Gold Coast showpiece starting in Australia on Thursday.
“This is a very special one for me because it is going to be my last Commonwealth Games before I probably retire after Tokyo (2020 Olympics) so I’m just soaking in the team environment and enjoying being here,” Van der Burgh said.
“Representing South Africa is always such a privilege, so I’m looking forward to it and hoping to see the flag being raised and hearing the anthem being played one last time at these Games.”
Having earned six medals at the last two editions of the Games, Van der Burgh was aiming for his third straight 50m breaststroke title.
He was also targeting his third successive podium places in the 100m event and the 4x100m medley relay.
The 29-year-old swimmer was facing a quality line-up, however, including world record holder Adam Peaty of Great Britain, who settled for silver in the sprint final in Glasgow four years ago but edged out the South African to win 100m gold.
While Peaty had outclassed Van der Burgh at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships, as well as the 2016 Rio Olympics, the South African remained confident he could get the better of his rival.
A previous Olympic and world champion, and a former world record holder, Van der Burgh believed he still had the speed to put up a fight.
“I’m hoping to climb to the top of the podium again but there’s tough competition,” he said.
“Hopefully I can set some personal bests and walk away with the honours.”