A memorable Olympic moment for South Africa
London Olympic Games 2012
July 31st, 2012
Swimmer Cameron van der Burgh winning the gold medal in the men’s 100m breaststroke in a word record time of 58.46 seconds, was one of South Africa’s most memorable Olympic moments ever. It is on par with Penny Heyns’s triumph in Atlanta in 1996 and the performance by our 'Awesome Foursome' in the swimming relay in Athens in 2005.
Cameron led from start to finish winning by almost a half second ahead of the Australian, Christian Sprenger, and more than a second in front of the bronze medalist Brendan Hansen of the United States.
With a world record time, he became the country's first male swimming Olympic gold medalist in an individual event.
Heyns won the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the Olympics in 1996.
Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend were South Africa’s relay heroes in Athens in 2004.
"It is just a feeling that I can't describe right now," an excited Van der Burgh said after the race.
"The last four years have been a lot of hard work."
The night before, Van der Burgh had clocked a time of 58.83 seconds, improving his previous national and continental record of 58.95 seconds which he set at the 2009 Fina World Championships in Rome.
“This is what I have been working towards since the age of ten. I’d been working towards this dream of mine for fourteen years. To finally come here and see that everything has been worth it, it’s overwhelming. “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.”
Swimming South Africa devised a long-term plan since Beijing, reported the Cape Times. It was a three-year program that used funding from Sascoc and the Lotto to give all swimmers, both those based in South Africa and overseas, more support.
At the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, team South Africa won fifteen medals, including seven gold.
Chad le Clos
That event marked the birth of Chad le Clos, who became the third SA swimmer in 2011 to win the Fina World Cup series.
Le Clos did not medal in the men’s 400m individual medley on Saturday, but beat Ryan Lochte in the heats, and finished fifth in the final.
The 20-year old showed his fans how talented he is by challenging the superstars, Lochte and Michael Phelps, in the final.
Chad le Clos is set to be a superstar in the near future, and could well earn South Africa some more medals at the London Olympics later in the week.
On the evidence of the early races, Phelps, arguably the greatest swimmer of all time, looked off the pace and in danger of being upstaged by Lochte and the 17-year old American female sensation, Missy Franklin.
Franklin won gold in the 100m backstroke at the Aquatic Centre in London only fourteen minutes after qualifying for the 200 m freestyle final, a sensational performance by the new American heroine.
Unfortunately for South Africa, there was little support for Van der Burgh and Le Clos on the evidence of the first four days of the Olympics.
The SA men's 4x100m freestyle relay team of Roland Schoeman, 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.
Suzaan van Biljon failed to progress beyond the semifinals of the women's 100m breaststroke, finishing seventh i1:07.68.
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.
He will have to try and swim his leg in less than 54 seconds to give Van der Burgh and the rest of his teammates any chance of winning a medal.
Trott's hopes in the 400m freestyle event were dashed when she touched last in 4:11.63.
South Africa’s hockey hopes were dimmed early on by world-class opponents.
The SA women’s hockey team was thrashed by one of the favourites, Argentina, losing 1-7.
The SA team looked in excellent form in the recent London Cup, but they were way too hesitant in defensive situations to challenge arguably the strong favourites to win the gold medal this year.
Marsha Marescia, the captain, acknowledged that that if South Africa played with more intensity to prevent the penalty corners, the score line might have been different.
The team conceded eleven penalty corners and will have to be more accurate in defensive situations in their second match, against New Zealand, to change their fortunes.
Jamie Dwyer scored a hat-trick of goals as Australia registered an emphatic 6-0 victory over the South African men’s hockey team in their 2012 Olympic Games pool A opener.
Australia is currently ranked number one in the world and was the 2008 bronze medallist. South Africa is ranked 12th globally and, unfortunately, was outclassed by the men from Down Under.
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