Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) poses with his gold medal after winning the men's 100m breaststroke finals in a world record time of 58.46 during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The South African swimmer set the world record and dedicated his win to his friend Alexander Dale Oen, whom he called his role model.
A swimmer who was not present was still front and center at the finals of the men's 100-meter breaststroke, won by Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa with a world record time of 58.46 seconds.
After winning the race, van der Burgh lay on his back, looked skyward and pointed, a tribute to Norwegian Alexander Dale Oen, who died of a heart attack this year at 26. Dale Oen was loved in his sport both for his talent and humanity. He had held the world record and would have been the favorite heading into London.
"I dedicate this race to Alexander," van der Burgh said after winning. "He was a role model for me when it comes to hard training." He said he felt Dale Oen's presence and it gave him strength. His comments were echoed before the race by other swimmers, who said they have not forgotten Dale Oen and what he meant to the sport.
Dale Oen died on April 30 of a heart attack in Flagstaff, Ariz. His Twitter page is still online and his last entry, dated April 29, is poignant and haunting: "2 days left of our camp up here in Flagstaff,then its back to the most beautiful city in Norway.. #Bergen"
Van der Burgh was popular in Norway for his outspoken remembrances of Dale Oen, with this tweet prior to the final summing it up: "NORWAY's behind you Cameron van der Burgh! COME ON! Win this for yourself and Alexander Dale Oen. #London2012"
There is always something extra sad about a young person dying, especially an athlete in his prime passing due to a heart condition. Dale Oen is gone, but he is anything but forgotten.
Here is van der Burgh after winning the breaststroke. (Photo by Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports):
The late Alexander Dale Oen, after setting the world record last July. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images):