Success breeds ... funding
Cameron van der Burgh says that, with more money, South African swimming could win more medals.
And the gold medal hero's plea did not fall on deaf ears yesterday.
Almost immediately afterwards, Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula promised to help.
Mbalula, who was present at OR Tambo International Airport to welcome home Van der Burgh and fellow Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos, said the government would prioritise funding for medal-winning sports such as swimming. South Africa won three medals in the London pool - two golds and a silver.
Speaking to the thousands who turned out to welcome them back, Van der Burgh said he and Le Clos had discussed how to improve South African swimming while on the plane.
"We agreed that we have to use the successes of the London Olympics to change South African swimming. We really have to take swimming to another level."
He said South Africa's 5000 to 6000 active club swimmers were a "drop in the ocean" compared with about 150000 in Australia and 300000 in the US.
"With more financial support we will win more medals," he said.
Mbalula said he had urged the corporate world to contribute to the nation's improved success in sport.
"Swimming has never let us down at global competitions; they always come back with medals despite getting very little financial support," said the minister.
"You can see that, with a zero budget, we can beat the Australians.
"South Africa is an ambitious, courageous sporting nation.
"If we give more financial support to medal-winning codes like swimming we will win more medals."
Mbalula said top swimming coaches such as Graham Hill should be used to develop talent in the townships.
Hill has been the coach of Le Clos for 12 years and was the team coach at the Olympic Games.
"We have an Olympic swimming pool in Gugulethu but people are now using it for bashes.
"We must use it so that we will produce more top swimmers," said Mbalula.
- Reuters reports that Van der Burgh revealed yesterday that his cellphone pin number was 2012.
He said that since the age of 10 (1998) he'd been using that as his pin number.
"But now that I've won gold in the 2012 Olympics, I've achieved that goal and, for the first time in 14 years I'll have to change my pin," said Van der Burgh.
Cameron: I used no kick tricks
SWIMMING star Cameron van der Burgh yesterday dismissed allegations that he had cheated his way to a gold medal.
Last week the South African won the 100m breaststroke at the London Olympics in a world record 58.46sec.
"I have never been a cheat," said Van der Burgh on his arrival at OR Tambo International Airport.
"I have never been disqualified or warned in any competition."
Attempts to undermine his triumph were made in Australia and elsewhere based on the three "dolphin kicks" during his race. In breaststroke events, swimmers are allowed to make one dolphin kick - a whip-like motion - at the start and after each turn. - Ramatsiyi Moholoa
Hero passes torch to Le Clos
NEW swimming sensation Chad le Clos has described beating the great Michael Phelps to win gold during the London Olympics 200m butterfly as the most overwhelming feeling of his life.
Speaking at a media briefing at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday, Le Clos said it was a great honour to hear Phelps urging him to take over the torch as the American legend retired.
"Michael Phelps is my [greatest] hero of all time. I have always worshipped him. Racing against him in the final was the greatest moment for me.
"Winning in that final will always be the most overwhelming feeling in my life. After that final, he came to wish me good luck.
"He said: 'Go and collect your gold medal'.
"Michael told me he was going to retire after the Games, saying it was now up to me to take over [from him]," said Le Clos.
Le Clos almost brought down the roof of the international arrivals hall at the airport when he wished his female fans: "Happy Women's Day."
One fan held a poster reading: "Chad, will you please be my matric date?"
In his message to South African's youths, Le Clos said: "Don't give up on your dream, even if you fail in your first attempt."
Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh are some of the big names who will be in action at the SA Short Course Championships in Pietermaritzburg from August 16 to 19.
Swimming SA president Jace Naidoo said: "Almost all our top swimmers will be competing in that event, which we will use to select a team to the World Short Course Championships, in Turkey next month." - Ramatsiyi Moholoa