Olympics 2012

Cameron gets rousing greeting

2012-07-31 12:24
Cameron van der Burgh (File)

Johannesburg - Olympic gold medal swimmer Cameron van der Burgh received a rousing welcome when he visited the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre in South Bank, London, the sport ministry said on Tuesday.

"The Queen Elizabeth Hall was full of ululations and blazing sounds of vuvuzelas from South Africans living abroad and those who are there for Olympics," the ministry said in a statement.

The Ekhaya Hospitality Centre is a base where team South Africa, its athletes, friends and families and supporters gather.

Van der Burgh visited the centre on Monday afternoon to show off his gold medal. He was accompanied by team South Africa's chef de mission (head of mission) Patience Shikwambana.

They were welcomed by Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, sport director general Alec Moemi, deputy health minister Gwen Ramokgopa and the High Commissioner of SA in the UK Zola Skweyiya, the ministry said.

Van der Burgh won the gold medal in London on Sunday when he won the 100m breaststroke with a world-record time of 58.46 seconds.

His record was 0.12 seconds faster than the previous record held by Australian Brenton Rickard, making him South Africa's first men's individual Olympic swimming champion.

He qualified for the final on Saturday when he won his semi-final by breaking the previous South African, African, and Olympic records with a time of 58.95.

The ministry quoted Van der Burgh saying: "It's a great feeling winning the medal for my country. When I grew up, I used to paste [up] posters of swimmers like Penny Heyns and always believed one day I will be like them.

"Today I am living that dream," he said.

Mbalula said South Africa was proud of Van der Burgh.

"You profiled the country amongst the nations of the world and motivated your fellow athletes to do us proud by also representing on the podium glory," Mbalula said.

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