Retired South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, 31, said he has been struggling with the disease for the last 14 days.
“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.
Gold medalist South Africa’s Cameron Van Der Burgh poses on the podium with his medal during the award ceremony of the men’s 50m breaststroke event in the FINA World Championships at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, on July 31, 2013. He contracted COVID-19 and described the illness as “by far the worst virus I have ever endured.”
Although his worst symptoms, like severe fever, have eased, Van der Burgh said he’s still grappling with serious fatigue and an unshakable cough.
“Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours,” said the 2012 Olympic 100-meter breaststroke champion.
He addressed athletes specifically, writing that: “The loss in body conditioning has been immense and 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.”
“Athletes will continue to train as there is no clarification re summer Games and thus are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk,” wrote Van der Burgh, who retired in 2018.
“And those that do contract will try rush back to training most likely enhancing/extending the damage/recovery time,” he added.
“Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first – COVID-19 is no joke!”
The International Olympic Committee on Sunday finally admitted that it may need to postpone the summer games in Tokyo, which have a current July starting date.