Cameron van der Burgh Arena

With the recent announcement from Cameron Van der Burgh that he plans to retire from competitive swimming after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, we take a look at his illustrious career.

Van der Burgh established himself as one of the world's top breaststroke swimmers after winning 50m gold at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.

Golds followed in both the 50m and 100m at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, before a world record time at London 2012 took him to the top step of the Olympic podium.

Were it not for the emergence of Adam Peaty on the world scene in recent years, van der Burgh's medal tally would have undoubtedly been even greater.

But in recognition of the 30-year-old's impressive career, we look back on five of his finest and most memorable performances.

 

5) 2009 South African Championships - 50m breaststroke semi-final

Van der Burgh's first long course world record was set in his home country during the 2009 South African Championships.

Already the world record holder over the short course, van der Burgh set a time of 27.06 in his semi-final swim at Durban. It shaved 0.12 off Oleg Lisogor's record, which had stood since 2002.

 

4) 2015 World Championships - 50m breaststroke heat

When van der Burgh resumed his rivalry with Adam Peaty at the 2015 World Championships in Russia, it was the South African who fired the first shot in the qualifying heats.

Van der Burgh broke his own world record in his heat, setting a new best of 26.62 to shave 0.06 off the time he clocked six years previously.

More significantly, his previous record was set at the 2009 World Championships - the era when polyurethane bodysuits were being used.

However, van der Burgh's record didn't see the day out. Peaty bested it in the semi-finals with a time of 26.42, and went on to beat the South African in the final.

 

3) 2012 Olympic Games - 100m breaststroke final

Van der Burgh produced a new world record to win his one and only Olympic gold as a 24-year-old at London 2012.

Admittedly, his victory will always be tinged with controversy due to the post-race furore over whether or not an illegal dolphin kick was used.

But the winning time of 58.46 broke Brenton Rickard's three-year-old world record, and earned South Africa their first gold medal of the 2012 Games.

Van der Burgh's record stood until April 2015, when a young British swimmer by the name of Adam Peaty swam a stunning 57.92 in London.

 

2) 2009 Swimming World Cup (Berlin Meet) - 50m breaststroke final

Van der Burgh's 50m breaststroke short course world record of 25.25 has stood for more than eight years.

His winning time at the 2009 World Cup meet in Berlin marked the fourth consecutive occasion within one year that he had broken the record.

In the 2008 World Cup, he had set two record times of 26.08 in Moscow and 25.94 three days later in Stockholm.

A new world best of 25.43 followed in the 2009 South African Championships, before his Berlin blitz cemented his second straight World Cup title.

 

1) 2018 Commonwealth Games - 50m breaststroke final

Van der Burgh's most recent victory is arguably his most impressive, given the strength of his main rival in the next lane.

Adam Peaty was tipped by many to be unbeatable after his 100m gold a couple of days earlier, and hadn't been beaten by the South African for four years.

But the older van der Burgh had other ideas, making the perfect start and keeping ahead of the Brit to touch first in 26.58 and win by four hundredths of a second.

"He (Peaty) obviously had the upper hand the last couple of years so to get on top of the podium and see my flag up there and my national anthem being played is going to be one of the highlights when I look back on my career," van der Burgh told reporters afterwards.