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The coronavirus might not be the worst of it
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Olympic gold medalist says covid-19 is ‘by far the worst virus’ he has ever had

Cameron van der Burgh, who won a swimming gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, has struggled to recover from the coronavirus. (Ng Han Guan/AP)
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Cameron van der Burgh, the South African swimmer who won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, is the picture of health, but he described the novel coronavirus, which he has had for two weeks, as “by far the worst virus” he has ever had.

Now retired from competitive swimming, van der Burgh, 31, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that he had come down with the virus 14 days earlier and reminded his Twitter followers “it’s no joke” as he described his battle with the illness.

“By far the worst virus I have ever endured despite being a healthy individual with strong lungs (no smoking/sport), living a healthy lifestyle and being young (least at risk demographic),” he tweeted.

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Van der Burgh, who won the 100-meter breaststroke in the Summer Games eight years ago, is recovering — slowly.

“Although the most severe symptoms (extreme fever) have eased, I am still struggling with serious fatigue and a residual cough that I can’t shake,” he wrote. “Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours.”

He described a “loss in body conditioning [that] has been immense” and added that he can “only feel for the athletes that contract covid-19 as they will suffer a great loss of current conditioning through the last training cycle.”

In particular, he cited athletes who are attempting to train for the Summer Olympics, still set to take place in July in Tokyo.

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“Athletes will continue to train as there is no clarification re summer Games and thus are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk,” he wrote, “and those that do contract will try [to] rush back to training most likely enhancing/extending the damage/recovery time."

He concluded his threaded message with a plea: “Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first — Covid-19 is no joke!”