Cameron Van der Burgh: Former Olympic champion left ‘exhausted’ from coronavirus and warns Tokyo 2020 athletes of ‘unnecessary risk’

The South African is past the worst symptoms of covid-19 but remains fatigued by its effects

Jack Rathborn
Monday 23 March 2020 09:21
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Coronavirus: What we know so far

Former Olympic swimming champion Cameron van der Burgh has revealed his “struggle” with coronavirus over the last two weeks and warned athletes still training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that they are taking an “unnecessary risk”.

The now-retired South African won gold in the 100m breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics and silver in Rio four years later.

After overcoming the most severe symptoms of covid-19, Van der Burgh has revealed any physical activity still leaves him exhausted.

“I have been struggling with COVID-19 for 14 days today,” he said 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).

“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.”

More than 14,600 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Van der Burgh, 31, said athletes who contract the virus will struggle to get back in peak condition for the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24, though there have been growing calls for the Olympics to be postponed.

Van der Burgh has warned Tokyo 2020 athletes

Canada became the first country to boycott the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic and Australia on Monday told its athletes to prepare for the Olympics to be postponed to 2021.

“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 regarding the 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.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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