Golden Cameron does SA proud
GOLDEN boy Cameron van der Burgh probably smiled in his sleep last night.
And so he deserved to.
Van der Burgh couldn't stop grinning after conquering the planet's best in the men's 100m breaststroke in a 58.46 second world record.
"It's just a feeling that I can't describe right now," he said.
Van der Burgh went into the final as the out-and-out favourite, having clocked an Olympic record in the semifinals the previous night.
And he delivered in such style he could teach every politician in South Africa just how to perform when it counts.
Van der Burgh simply torpedoed a field that was the who's who of breaststroke racing - among his victims were American Brenton Rickard, the previous world record holder, and Kosuke Kitajima, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion in this event.
Van der Burgh led from start to finish. Everybody knows he has a quick start, but the sceptics didn't realise he had been working hard this year on his second lap, when he has been known to fade in the past.
And at no point did the SA star look like he wouldn't win as he clocked 58.46 seconds, smashing 12-hundredths of a second off the world record.
"I didn't really care about the world record, it really doesn't faze me," said Van der Burgh.
"Once you become an Olympic champion, you join the club and they can never take it away from you and one day I can tell my kids, when they're watching the Olympic Games, I've done that and I've won that and it's a great honour for me."
The key to the final was treating it like a normal race, he said.
"It's really so difficult to try and keep focused on the matter at hand. It's just a race like any other race and you've got to see it that way.
"And the whole day it's just been trying to speak to friends, girlfriend, parents, trying to keep your mind off the matter. Just try and come into the race like a normal day."
There is a feeling that Van der Burgh's gold will help inspire Team SA, although it wasn't quite enough to push the men's 4x100m freestyle relay team onto the podium.
Gideon Louw, Darian Townsend, Graeme Moore and Roland Schoeman finished fifth in a nail-biting race where France avenged their defeat four years ago to the US. Russia were third and Australia, the pre-race favourites, fourth.
SA's 4x100m medley relay team is supposed to be a medal hope come Saturday's final.