Cameron van der Burgh is swimming for South Africa – and for a fallen rival he keeps close each time he dives off the block.
Alexander Dale Oen of Norway inspired his nation last July when he captured the 100-meter breaststroke world championship and dedicated the win to the 77 people killed in that country’s worst peacetime massacre.
He pointed to the flag on his swim cap and wept on the podium as Norway’s national anthem played. By late April, Dale Oen was dead at 26 from heart disease – months before he was to be the best hope for Norwegian swimming gold in London.
With an ear-to-ear grin and buff biceps he flexed for all to see, Dale Oen, the silver medalist at the 2008 games, surely would have been in a neighboring lane in the 100 breaststroke final today.
“It’s obviously strange” to be there without him, said van der Burgh, who is dedicating the event to Dale Oen. “But I can’t be focusing about Alex right now. I have to look after myself first and prepare for the race and try to win a medal.”
Don’t miss: Women’s gymnastics gets going, and NBC cameras are sure to focus on Team USA, featuring Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas. This U.S. team is very strong and favored to win gold.
Also: LeBron James and the star-studded U.S. men’s basketball team takes on France at 5:30 a.m. PDT. At the pool, four gold-medal finals – the men’s 100 breaststroke and 400 free relay and the women’s 100 butterfly and 400 free, featuring defending Olympic champ Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain.
Primetime on NBC: Swimming: gold-medal finals in men’s 100m breaststroke, 400m freestyle relay, women’s 100m butterfly, 400m freestyle; Women’s gymnastics: team competition; Women’s diving: synchronized springboard gold medal final.