Olympic Star Describes the Agony of COVID-19

After two weeks, walking still exhausts Cameron van der Burgh
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2020 5:30 PM CDT
Olympian Says He's Struggling with COVID-19
Gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh poses during the ceremonies for the men's 50m breaststroke at the 14th FINA World Swimming Championships in China in December 2018.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

A couple of weeks ago, Cameron van der Burgh would have been considered about as healthy as you can be. The winner of an Olympic gold medal, USA Today reports, he has strong lungs—no smoking—and the conditioning of a world-class athlete. His lifestyle is healthy, and he's 31 years old. Despite all that, "I have been struggling with COVID-19 for 14 days today," van der Burgh tweeted Sunday, calling it "by far the worst virus I have ever endured." He said the fever and other severe symptoms have subsided, but a cough and fatigue linger. "Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours," the South African athlete said.

"The loss in body conditioning has been immense," van der Burgh said, which led him to explain why the lack of a decision on whether to cancel the Summer Olympics scheduled for Tokyo this year is problematic. Athletes are continuing to train for the Games, he said, "and thus are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk." Those who contract the coronavirus could try to return to training too soon, he said, further endangering their health. Several nations have said their athletes won't be going to Tokyo, but the Games have not yet been canceled or postponed. Van der Burgh won his medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics, per People. This disease is serious, he posted. "Please, look after yourself everyone!" van der Burgh said. (More coronavirus stories.)

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