Cameron van der Burgh has been a consistent performer on the international stage since his teens, proving to be the epitome of longevity by remaining among the world’s greatest breaststroke swimmers even as he approaches his 30s.
The South African swimming great proved that once again when he won his third straight 50m breaststroke title at last month’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The London 2012 Olympic Games champion produced one of his greatest performances in Australia, beating world record holder Adam Peaty in the sprint final.
Out-touching Peaty was an impressive feat as the Briton has redefined breaststroke swimming since he burst onto the scene four years ago.
Van der Burgh has shown no sign of slowing down and hopes to get even faster in order to show the young pretenders a thing or two at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Cam in Japan
Van der Burgh may have had his final hurrah at the Commonwealth Games but his Gold Coast performance has strengthened his resolve to reclaim the Olympic title he conceded to Peaty.
“It is more taking it year by year. I am really happy with where I am but I am definitely not going to go another four years until 2022,” Van Der Burgh said recently.
“It would obviously have been great if we had Durban (Commonwealth Games) in 2022. It would probably have swung my mind.
“We have quite a bit of time until World Championships next year in August and then obviously the Olympic Games.
“There is definitely a lot of motivation, a lot of self-reassurance like you still got it, you are doing well.”
Van der Burgh will be looking to etch his name into the history books by becoming the first 100m breaststroke swimmer to land podium places at three consecutive Olympics.
The South African swimming legend said his final appearance at the Commonwealth Games was more about the legacy he would leave behind than claiming the 50m breaststroke threepeat.
“The biggest thing I worked on was the team camaraderie and the whole spirit, and it really paid back ten-fold when I raced.
“All the boys on the team in the stands were going wild and they even had to delay the start because the boys were screaming so much.
“And then obviously winning and you are screaming for them, it was a beautiful moment I shared with teammates.
“Early in your career you sort of swim for yourself and you don’t think so much of the team because it is such an individual sport.
“So this was probably the proudest I’ve felt as a team member to win a gold medal, standing on the podium, belting it out and absolutely going wild.”