Van der Burgh bags gold medal
Cameron van der Burgh was the king of the pool on Sunday night, bagging South Africa's first medal of the London Olympics when he won gold in the men's 100 metres breaststroke in a world record time of 58.46 seconds.
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The South African led from start to finish as he annihilated the rest of the field.
He set a world record, becoming the country's first male swimmer to win a gold medal in an individual event at the Games.
"It is just a feeling that I can't describe right now," Van der Burgh said after the race.
"The last four years have been a lot of hard work."
Van der Burgh was followed by Christian Sprenger of Australia in a time of 58.93 and American Brendan Hansen who was third in 59.49.
The night before, Van der Burgh had clocked a time of 58.83, improving his previous national and continental record of 58.95 which he set at the 2009 Fina World Championships in Rome.
Van der Burgh, however, said he cared more about the Olympic crown, a title he will carry with him for the rest of his life, than he did about the time.
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“I don't really care about the world record. It really doesn't faze me,” he said.
“Once you become an Olympic champion, you join a club and they can never take it away from you."
He said if was difficult to stay focussed in the build-up to the race and had relied on friends and family to keep his mind off the matter.
Van der Burgh's performance cast a massive shadow over any of the other South African performances of the night in the pool.
The SA men's 4x100m freestyle relay team of Roland Schoeman, Darian Townsend, Gideon Louw and Graeme Moore struggled to mount a challenge in a world record race as they finished fifth in a time of 3:13.45.
The French team sprung the surprise of the evening, beating the United States in a world best time of 3:09.93.
Suzaan van Biljon failed to progress beyond the semifinals of the women's 100m breaststroke, finishing seventh in one minute, 07.68 seconds (1:07.68).
Van Biljon, however, said she was satisfied with her performance as she once again came close to the personal best she set when she qualified 12th fastest in the morning heats.
Earlier in the pool, Charl Crous and Wendy Trott failed to progress beyond the heats in their respective events.
Crous clocked 55.37 seconds, finishing last in his 100m backstroke heat.
While his Olympic campaign as an individual came to an end, Crous still has an opportunity to compete as part of the men's 4x100m medley relay team.
Trott's hopes in the 400m freestyle event were dashed when she touched last in 4:11.63.
She had said earlier, however, that she was treating the event as a warm-up for her specialist discipline, the 800m freestyle, on Thursday.