Van der Burgh could face financial backlash from Sascoc after pulling out of 100m breaststroke heats
Cameron van der Burgh pulled out of the 100m breaststroke heats on the opening morning of the swimming leg of the world championships in Budapest on Sunday.
But it’s a decision that may yet come back to haunt him when the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) reviews the list of recipients on its Operation Excellence funding programme.
In the build-up to the international showpiece Van der Burgh had said his prime focus was the 50m breaststroke‚ which begins on Tuesday.
Van der Burgh — who had medalled in the 100m event at the past four world championships‚ with bronze in 2009 and 2011 and silver in 2013 and 2015 — had said he would play the 100m by ear.
He was ranked 16th in the 100m going into this gala‚ but said he had been happy with his preparation‚ pointing out that his 1min 00.02sec effort in Barcelona was his second-fastest career 100m on the Mare Nostrum series.
He would have needed to get closer to his best time of the year‚ his 59.73 at the SA championships in April‚ to have qualified for the semifinals on Sunday evening.
His decision could see a financial backlash from Sascoc -- the 100m breaststroke is an Olympic event but the 50m isn’t.
Even if Van der Burgh wins the gold - he is seeking his sixth consecutive world championship gong in this event - it might not convince Sascoc to keep him on board.
Sascoc has shown little sentimentality in the past‚ even dropping Caster Semenya in 2013‚ less than a year after she had won the Olympic silver medal at London 2012. Semenya is still not on the OpEx programme.
Neither is freestyle swimmer Brad Tandy despite his sixth place finish at the Rio Games last year.
As a result‚ US-based Tandy couldn’t afford to make the trip to Budapest for this gala.
Without Van der Burgh in the pool‚ no South Africans advanced to the evening session of finals and semifinals.
Brent Szurdoki was ninth in his 400m freestyle heat‚ clocking 3min 54.34sec for an overall ranking of 33 out of 52 swimmers. He is scheduled to compete again in the 1500m later in the gala.
Schoolgirl Kate Beavon ended eighth in her 400m freestyle heat in 4:20.82 to claim 27th out of 33.
Doug Erasmus was last in a tough 50m butterfly heat‚ but his 24.17sec‚ although being more than a second behind the winning time in his race‚ placed him 32nd in a field of 81.
The men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team ended seventh in their heat‚ missing a spot in Sunday’s final by fewer than three seconds‚ with Myles Brown showing useful speed with a leg of 48.71sec.
But the mostly inexperienced women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team ended last more than 20 seconds behind the top-ranked US team and more than 10 seconds behind Hong Kong‚ the second-slowest team of the heats.