Not only is Cameron van der Burgh a proud swimming world champion, but he is also a (very) proud Tuks Old Boy. varsitycup.co.za's Kate Nokwe caught up with the record-breaking Pretoria 'boytjie'.
With the simple, powerful, familiar message, displayed for all to see, Cameron van der Burgh undoubtedly relayed an unforgettable message to his fellow South Africans and the rest of the world: he made sporting headlines, not only for winning a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, but also for the proudly South Africa words 'Ke Nako' imprinted on his palms, which took centre stage.
"It was a last minute thing," Van der Burgh told varsitycup.co.za when asked about his gesture to the entire sporting world.
"The Commonwealth Games are a crucial event and followed the success of the World Cup. I wanted to remind the world of the SA experience, our spirit, and the unity which brought us together through our love of sport."
Van der Burgh's passion for sport started with him excelling in swimming at the age of 15.
The talented sportsman was also no stranger to the cricket pitch and soccer field, but it was swimming that would soon introduce this former Tukkies student to the rest of the world, where today he is Africa's first home-trained - and the youngest - world record holder.
In 2009 this swimming sensation obtained his first world long-course record in the 50m breaststroke, in what remains one of the highlights of his professional career.
"Carrying the South African flag at the Commonwealth Games was the other (highlight)," remarked Van der Burgh, "a true proud moment for me," added this 23-year-old, who also happens to hold the 100m breaststroke world record.
A Pretoria boy through and through, Van der Burgh studied towards a B.Com in Finance Management at the University of Pretoria, and juggled - with difficulty - classes and time in the pool. However, the success of his young career kept him on the road tirelessly, which meant that this talented athlete had to put his studies on hold.
As a champion of education, SA's highest ranked swimmer assured us this "sabbatical" is just temporary.
"A professional sports career only last for so long, when I'm done I will need something to fall back on. I will definitely finish my degree," said this proud Arsenal and Blue Bulls fan.
Due to his endless travels he didn't see any Varsity Cup games live this past season, but he followed the competition as much as he could. And, much like his fellow Tuks Alumni - Liezel van der Westhuizen and Sias du Plessis, FNB Tuks' 2011 campaign is one that he is proud of. He also reckons the best is yet to come for them!
"It's great to see the lads doing so well, rugby has always been a huge part of Tuks' culture. With the new mentors the team can only go further. It's only a matter of time before they bring the cup home!"
The former Tuks student sees the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International as a launchpad (for bigger and better things), a breeding ground and a platform showcasing outstanding talent and the future of South African rugby.
As a man of great achievement, this South African champion welcomes the responsibility of being an example, even with the pressure that comes with the title of being a role model.
He is a man who makes the most of all experiences and as he reflects on his time at UP. His only regret is the student life he never fully experienced, although he would not trade his current - and hopefully future! - achievements for anything in world...
Follow Cameron on Twitter; @Cameronvdburgh
By Kate Nokwe