He may be the world's fastest breaststroke swimmer but, surprisingly, Cameron van der Burgh's mother did not want him to try out swimming.
“I was very hyperactive as a kid. They used to give medicines to calm me down,” the 50m breaststroke World champion said in a freewheeling chat here on Saturday.
“I wanted to try out swimming but my mom was scared of water. My dad was into rugby but he said rugby was too dangerous.”
He had his way anyway and took to swimming at the age of 10. Good for him too, for he is now the World champion and a World record holder, South Africa's first home-grown owner of a world mark.
A great line-up
The Commonwealth Games has some of the world's best swimmers. The breaststroke duels between Cameron and his Australian counterpart Brenton Rickard, the 100m World champion and World record holder, could be among the high points of Delhi.
“For me, it's sort of exciting to have Brenton here, we push each other to better times,” said the 22-year-old from Pretoria. “We have a strong rivalry and it's almost a year since we raced against each other in a major. It's going to be great.”
The two breaststroke specialists will face off in both the 50m and 100m. Sparks are bound to fly. So, will the fireworks throw up World records?
“If I can pull off my best times, yes. But the season has been dragging on and on this year,” said the 22-year-old Cameron.
Cameron flopped in the qualifiers at the Beijing Olympics two years ago. “I was just 18 then, too young,” he explained. But the harsh lessons will come in very handy. He is aware that he has to work doubly hard for the 2012 Summer Games in London.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Brenton, the Olympic silver medallist in the 200m breast and the 4x100m relay in Beijing, is slogging to trade the silvers for golds at the next Games. And he is aware that Cameron will be taking up Delhi as one of his roads to London.
World champions and World record holders. Delhi suddenly appears to be packed with stars!