Van der Burgh cruises to Olympic victory

Swimmer Cameron van der Burgh on Sunday became South Africa's first Olympic gold medalist since 2004.

Golden Boy: Swimmer Cameron van der Burgh poses with his gold medal after winning the 100m breaststroke final, and setting a world record, at the London Olympics. Picture Wessel Oosthuizen/SA Sports Picture Agency

LONDON - Cameron van der Burgh on Sunday became South Africa's first Olympic gold medalist since 2004, when cruised to victory in the 100-metre breaststroke final.

In front of a sold-out Aquatics Centre in London, van der Burgh set a new world record in the process.

The swimming star was tipped as the favourite to win gold, but competing against a world-class field, it was never going to be easy.

In a remarkable race he led from start to finish, the champion swimmer left his competitors behind - including Japan's favourite Kosuke Kitajima.

Kitajima came in fifth, failing to win a third breaststroke double.

He won the 100-200 breaststroke double at both Athens and Beijing Olympics.

After a disappointing opening few days for Team SA, van der Burgh's gold and a world record time of 58.46 seconds re-ignited South Africa's medal hopes for the country's first of the Games.