Cameron van der Burgh, Olympic breaststroke champ, retires

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Cameron van der Burgh, the first African man to win an individual Olympic swimming event, announced his retirement after winning the 100m breaststroke at the world short-course championships on Wednesday.

“It is the last [100m breast]. It is sad, but I am happy to end on a high,” he said, according to FINA. “The last 25 meters was the most pain I have ever had in my life in swimming, so it was a good way to finish.

“It is funny how these things turn out. At least I have no loose ends to tie up or reason to come back.”

Van der Burgh, 30, won the 100m breast at the 2012 London Games to join fellow breaststroker Penny Heyns, backstroker Joan Harrison and the 2004 men’s 4x100m free relay as South Africa’s Olympic swimming gold medalists.

Chad le Clos joined the club later in the Games when he upset Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly.

At the 2012 Games, van der Burgh won in a then-world record and dedicated it to Norwegian Alexander Dale Oen, the 2011 World champion who died suddenly while training in Arizona that spring.

Van der Burgh kept Japanese megastar Kosuke Kitajima from becoming the first male swimmer to win the same event at three Olympics, paving the way for Phelps to do it in the 200m individual medley later in the Games.

Van der Burgh added world silver medals in the event in 2013 and 2015 and Olympic silver in Rio, ceding the top spot to Brit Adam Peaty, who is not racing at short-course worlds this week.

Van der Burgh also earned 50m and 100m breast medals at every world championships between 2009 and 2015.

He is still entered in the 50m breast later this week.

MORE: The U.S. breaststroke hope to end Olympic drought

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