South African swimming superstar Cameron van der Burgh, the World Record holder and defending Olympic Champion in the 100 breaststroke, has pulled out of the French Open this weekend and is returning home to South Africa.
He reported the news on his Twitter account Friday, citing a knee strain and that he “hope[s] to be back by world champs.”
The injury seems to have been suffered on Thursday at the Nilox Cup in Torino, Italy. In front of a sold-out crowd, the competition took on a knock-out format that had swimmers contesting rapid-fire 50’s, four minutes apart, with the slowest 2 being knocked out in each round. Van der Burgh came away with the win, but paid the price it would seem.
Any sort of pain involved with the knees is the last thing that a breaststroker wants to hear. It would be a blow to van der Burgh if the injury lingered, as he will be 28 years old (relatively aged by a swimmer’s standards) by the Rio 2016 Olympics. He was the bronze medalist in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes at the 2011 edition of the World Championships.
The French Open will run Saturday and Sunday in Vichy. A preview can be seen here.