SG News (Straits Times)

Coronavirus: It’s no joke, ex-Olympic swim champ van der Burgh warns after struggles in recovery

By March 28, 2020 No Comments
Cameron van der Burgh said he has been struggling with Covid-19 for 14 days.

Cameron van der Burgh said he has been struggling with Covid-19 for 14 days.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Olympic champion swimmer Cameron van der Burgh said on Sunday (March 22) that he had contracted the coronavirus, offering an insight into how the infection could affect 2020 Olympic hopefuls.

“I have been struggling with Covid-19 for 14 days today,” the South African wrote on Twitter. “By far the worst virus I have ever endured despite being a healthy individual with strong lungs (no smoking/sport), living a healthy lifestyle and being young (least at risk demographic).”

The 2012 Olympic 100m breaststroke gold medallist, two-time 50m world champion and former world-record holder retired from the sport in 2018.

A still-fit 31, van der Burgh remained among those least likely to be severely impacted by the deadly virus.

But he said the debilitating effects of the illness were lingering.

“Although the most severe symptoms (extreme fever) have eased, I am still struggling with serious fatigue and a residual cough that I can’t shake,” van der Burgh wrote.

“Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours.”

He followed his London triumph with a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and retired after winning gold in the 2018 short course world championships.

He said contracting the virus would be a severe blow to any athlete in training.


“The loss in body conditioning has been immense and can only feel for the athletes that contract Covid-19 as they will suffer a great loss of current conditioning through the last training cycle. Infection closer to competition being the worst.”


As the International Olympic Committee faced mounting pressure to delay the 2020 Tokyo Games in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, van der Burgh feared that Olympic hopefuls would put their health at risk trying to prepare.

“Athletes will continue to train as there is no clarification re summer Games and thus are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk – and those that do contract will try rush back to training most likely enhancing/extending the damage/recovery time,” he wrote.

“Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first – Covid-19 is no joke!”