Golden boys on mission
CAMERON van der Burgh says that with more money, South African swimming can win more medals. And the gold medal hero's plea did not fall on deaf ears.
Almost immediately afterwards, Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula promised to help. Mbalula, who was at OR Tambo International airport to welcome home Van der Burgh and fellow Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos, said the government would prioritise funding for medal-winning sports like swimming.
South Africa won three medals in the London pool - two golds and a silver.
Addressing the thousands who turned out to welcome them back, Van der Burgh said he and Le Clos had discussed how to improve SA swimming.
"Chad and I were having a chat on the plane this morning," said Van der Burgh.
"We agreed that we have to use the successes of the London Olympics to change South African swimming.
"We really have to take swimming to another level."
He said South Africa's 5,000 to 6,000 active club swimmers were a "drop in the ocean" compared with about 150,000 in Australia and 300,000 in the US.
"With more financial support we will win more medals," he said.
Mbalula responded, saying he had also urged the corporate world to contribute to the success of South African sport.
"Swimming has never let us down at global competitions, they always come back with medals despite getting very little financial support," said the minister.
"You can see with a zero budget, we can beat the Australians.
"If we give more financial support to medal-winning codes like swimming, we will win more medals."
Mbalula said top swimming coaches like Graham Hill should also be used to develop talent in the townships. Hill has been Le Clos's coach for 12 years and was the team coach at the Olympic Games.
"We have an Olympic swimming pool in Gugulethu but people are now using it for bashes.
"We must use it so that we will produce more top swimmers," said Mbalula.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Van der Burgh revealed yesterday that his cellphone pin number was 2012. He said that since the age of 10 (in 1998) he'd been using that as his pin number.
"But now that I've won gold in the 2012 Olympics, I've achieved that goal and for the first time in 14 years I'll have to change my pin," said Van der Burgh.