The South African swimmer, who broke the Olympic record in the semi finals, had the raw speed to take the race out from the front and backed himself to maintain the lead until the finish.
Cameron swam a very fast 27:07 on the first lap and brought it home with a 31:39 to set a new world record of 58:46 and became the first South African male swimmer to ever win an individual gold medal at the Olympics.
“It is just a feeling that I can’t describe right now,” Van der Burgh said after the race. “The last four years have been a lot of hard work.”
Van der Burgh owns a house in Jeffreys Bay and can often be seen riding waves in the surf breaks around the town.
The South African 4 x 100m freestyle relay team failed to mount a serious challenge in their race, which was won by France, who defeated the United States with Russia coming third. The pre race favourites, Australia came 4th with South Africa taking 5th position.