‘Biggest day of my life’ — SA gold medal winner

2009-07-30 00:00

“TODAY was the biggest day in my life” was the reaction from superstar Cameron van der Burgh, as he raced to his first gold medal in another world record time at the 13th Fina World Swimming Championships on the fourth day in Rome, Italy, last night.

The talented 21-year-old took the challenge to his opposition to win the men’s 50 m breaststroke in a new record time of 26,67sec — beating Felipe Franca Silva from Brazil, the man who stole the record from him for a few months only, by 0,09sec.

Van der Burgh was ecstatic at how “the team has stood behind me and the rest of South Africa at home. The support has been amazing and all I can say is that at last no one can take this gold medal away from me.

“I knew I had won the race as I hit the water, everything just went the way I had hoped. But I must say, at about 30 metres, the underwater camera flashed and that gave me a bit of a fright.”

The modest Van der Burgh was obviously beaming, and was quick to add that “I hope my performance lifts the rest of the team as I believe we are doing really well. We are making a lot more finals and earning more medals than Beijing, and that’s progress.”

For the Pietermaritzburg supporters, Van der Burgh will be in action at the Telkom SA Short Course Championships taking place at the GC Jolliffe Pool from August 7 to 10.

It was a popular Michael Phelps (U.S.) who bounced back to show his class and also how human he really is. Everyone must have wondered when he stood up to the blocks in the men’s 200 m butterfly, if he was being a little too confident by wearing only a legskin suit.

After racing out to the front from the start, it was all Phelps as he lowered his own world mark to 1:51,51 — putting behind him his defeat at the hands of German Paul Biedermann the night before in the 200 m freestyle.

“In fact, I was happy with my time in the 200 metres free,” he said. “But to answer the questions on the suit, I actually grabbed the wrong suit as I left the hotel.”

The suit certainly has never seemed to play a significant part in Phelps’s performances.

Lyndon Ferns kept the South Africans’ hopes of further medals alive in the men’s 100 m freestyle yesterday.

In the heats, he set a new Africa and SA record with a 47,79 sec dash, and then managed to clock 47,96 sec in his semi-final to still be in with a chance tonight.

City star Darian Townsend needed just another 0,39 sec in the men’s 200m IM to earn a spot in the final. He ended 11th in the semi-finals in a 1:58,50 and was not too disappointed in his performance.

The world record tumble continued with Anastasia Zueva (Russia) clocking 27,38 sec in the women’s 50 m backstroke shortly before Italian darling Federica Pellegrini drew the best from the crowds with an amazing 1:52,98 in the women’s 200 m freestyle.

Completing the record swims was China’s Lin Zhang in the men’s 800 m freestyle — he smashed the mark by a massive 6,53 sec to clock 7:32,12.

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