JOHANNESBURGH, South Africa, April 16. OLYMPIC champion Cameron van der Burgh will be one of 54 prominent South Africans bestowed with the National Honor later this month by President Jacob Zuma.
The National Order is similar to the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States or the Order of the British Empire honor. It is given annually to South Africans or foreigners with ties to South Africa whose work “benefits the country, whether through acts of bravery or community service.” Similar to the Order of the British Empire, the South African National Order has different levels of achievement, with South Africa bestowing its honors in bronze, silver and gold categories.
Van der Burgh will be honored with the silver Order of Ikhamanga, which is reserved for those who excel in the areas of sport, arts, literature, culture, music or journalism. Before van der Burgh, only three swimmers have received this honor. Englishman Lewis Pugh, who lived for a time in South Africa, is the only swimmer to receive the gold Order of Ikhamanga for his efforts to raise awareness of global warming through his swims in nearly every major body of water. Olympic champion Chad Le Clos received the silver order last year, while Paralympian Natalie du Toit was honored in 2009 after becoming the first swimmer to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics.
The awards will be presented on April 27.