Sat Sep 23 16:20:52 CAT 2017

Cameron van der Burgh wins SA's first medal #Rio2016

By DAVID ISAACSON | 2016-08-08 09:18:42.0

Cameron van der Burgh won South Africa’s first medal of the Rio Olympics last night, taking silver behind rampant Briton Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke.

Van der Burgh came in as the defending champion, but he was pleased as punch with his silver medal.

“Second best performance of my life, Olympic silver medal,” said Van der Burgh, who clocked a 58.69sec season’s best.

Peaty nailed his second world record in as many days, lowering it to 57.13.

“You know, I don’t really care about times I just care about medals and that’s what you get remembered by, not by what times you did,” added Van der Burgh.

“World records get broken all the time. At least when I retire my tally will say Olympic gold, Olympic silver.”

The fact is that only one other Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, Kosuke Kitajima, has succeeded in returning to the podium four years later.

Adding to the significance of Van der Burgh’s performance is that coming into the final, he had failed to break 59 seconds this year.

But the seasoned professional delivered when it mattered most.

Van der Burgh knew in warm-up that he was not capable of breaking 58 seconds.

“My body felt extremely good but my stroke is a little bit off, I’m not connecting properly like with my kick and my pull, so I had to play with what I have been given today so I was thinking if Adam makes some mistakes we can perhaps take the gold.

“But the real fight for me was really trying to clear the silver, which we did. Silver is a nice colour as well.”

American Cody Miller was third in 58.87.

The smile on Van der Burgh’s face was as bright as when he won gold at London 2012.

“It’s an amazing feeling, I’m so super proud, you know. Add a silver to the collection, gold, I can’t say I’m disappointed at all.

“The Olympics is such a massive stage I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about walking out there again, hearing Chariots of Fire getting on the podium again.

“It’s made the four-year cycle worth it and all the sacrifice as well.”

Van der Burgh admitted he had felt pressure coming into the final.

“The pressure that you obviously put on yourself and of course from everybody else.

“There’s a lot of expectation coming into these Games on Chad and myself trying to get the medals so I’m glad I’ve got the first one out the door and we can get the wheel rolling …

“This is now something to build upon. It’s still a long week and things can only get better,” said the 28-year-old, praising Peaty’s abilities

“If you said a year ago somebody would go 57.1 I don’t think anyone would have believed it.

“Kudos to the guy, he’s a great guy and he’s a great performer and I think a lot of us have some catching up to do, so we’ll have another 12 months to crack at it and obviously watch what he’s doing better.”

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