Cameron Van Der Burgh’s journey to Olympic gold ranks up there among South Africa’s proudest sporting achievements. Van Der Burgh dominated the front pages of the country’s newspapers only too eager to deliver some good news for a change. Praises continue to pour in for the swimmer. South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbablula, said that South Africa now counts among the best in the world while the Young Communist League belief was strengthened that winning the expected 12 medals was possible. His mother, Beverly Van Der Burgh, who was living each stroke with her son from the stands says there can be precious few prouder moments. “It has been a long road to get to this point. We have been with Cameron and helping him along the way for the past 10 years. It is the greatest feeling at the moment,” says Beverley. In 2004, Van der Burgh sat on his bed and watched the likes of Ryk Neethling parade the medals they won at the Athens Olympics and that was the last time the South African anthem sounded at the Olympic Games.

Last night, a gold medal and a new world record of 58:46s was the realisation of an Olympic dream that was eight years in the making.

Last night, a gold medal and a new world record of 58:46s was the realisation of an Olympic dream that was eight years in the making. “From all the little kids drawing pictures and cartoons of me swimming just keep at it. I mean today I received a message from my idol, Penny Heyns on Twitter and I was really surprised and honoured. If I can inspire one or 10 kids like she did for me that will be a great achievement for me for doing what i like,” says Van Der Burgh. As promised, Van der Burgh pockets R400 000 for his efforts. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president, Gideon Sam says: “Ofcourse the check book is ready, we can put it in his account right now and show you the evidence that we have paid.

– By Simon Burke