South African Olympic champion swimmer Cameron van der Burgh announced on Sunday, March 22 that he has contracted the coronavirus.

“I have been struggling with COVID-19 for 14 days today. 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),” said van der Burgh on Twitter.

Being physically healthy, fit and 31-years old, Van der Burgh is categorised as an individual thought to be least likely to contract the virus or to be heavily impacted by it.

“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. Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours,” he said. The athlete retired from swimming in 2018.

With the many medals he has won, one of the most notable moments in his career was in 2012, where van der Burgh became the 100m breaststroke record holder at the Olympic Games.

Due to his experience with the rigorous sport training and his experience with the COVID-19 virus, he has expressed his concern for athletes who are expecting to compete in the upcoming games.

“The loss in body conditioning has been immense and I 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,” he said.

“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 added.

While many sporting events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo have not.  A decision on the fate of The Games is still undecided and athletes are encouraged to continue training.

Van der Burgh is concerned that by doing so, it will be detrimental to their health.

He closed off by asking that everyone take care of themselves. “Health comes first – COVID-19 is no joke!” he said.

Picture: Twitter / Cameron van der Burgh

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