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29 Jul 2012 09:11
South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh waves as Japan's Kosuke Kitajima looks on after their men's 100m breaststroke semifinal at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (Matt Slocum, AP)
South African swimming ace Cameron van der Burgh smashed the South African, African and Olympic records in the semifinals of the 100-metres breaststroke at the London Olympic Games on Saturday night.
Van der Burgh touched the wall first in a time of 58.83 seconds, improving his previous national and continental record of 58.95 set three years ago at the 2009 Fina World Championships in Rome.
South Africa's greatest prospect for a medal in the swimming pool beamed as he looked up at the screen flashing his new record.
“I think for me at the moment times aren't really important," Van der Burgh said.
"It is just taking the next step towards the final. The main thing now is just fighting to get a place.”
He admitted, however, that the record had boosted his confidence ahead of Sunday night's final.
“It was just pure delight to see the time… to see 58 on the board was great,” he said.
Causing a splash
Earlier, rising star Chad le Clos finished fifth in the men's 400m individual medley final.
Le Clos, competing in his maiden Games, held the lead after the opening length of the butterfly leg but faded in the middle of the race to finish in 4:12.42.
American Ryan Lochte won gold, with Brazil's Thiago Pereira taking silver.
Japan's Kosuke Hagino finished third, while America's 14-time Olympic gold medallist, Michael Phelps, ended fourth.
“I guess I wanted to win a medal after making the final but I can't complain,” Le Clos said.
“Last year I was like 24th in this event.
Now I am fifth in the world, which is not too bad.”
Le Clos, the second fastest qualifier in the morning session, had won his heat, defeating Lochte in 4:12:24.
Riaan Schoeman finished sixth in the same heat, swimming in the lane next to Le Clos, and his time of 4:17.22 ended his Olympic campaign.
Elsewhere in the pool in the morning, Heerden Herman came seventh in his 400m freestyle heat, clocking 3:57.28, and he will now turn his focus to the 1500m freestyle heat next week.
Kathryn Meaklim finished sixth in her 400m individual medley heat, failing to qualify for the final.
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