YOLANDE DU PREEZ
PRETORIA is “a-Twitter” with messages of pride and congratulations after two more locals – members of the men’s lightweight rowing team – secured SA’s third gold medal at the Olympics.
John Smith, a former St Alban’s pupil, Sizwe Ndlovu, a former Crawford College pupil, James Thompson and Matthew Brittain followed in the footsteps of swimmers Cameron van den Burgh and Chad le Clos, who grabbed the first two.
Moments after the big win an out-of-breath John Smith said he was too excited to be tired. He said his team members had an intense mental connection and knew exactly what to do and when.
“We had a rowing plan. In the first half we would row conservatively and pick up pace in the second. In the final quarter of the race we gave it our all and it paid off.”
Smith said he was looking forward to celebrating with “the rest of the South Africans”. Smith’s father, Reg, said the family were over the moon. “We’re so proud of our boy.”
Ndlovu, the only black member in the team and whose parents have both died, told AFP: “This is amazing… I took rowing up at school in 1997, and now I’m standing here. My brothers and sisters are supporting me back home.”
The four beat Great Britain, Australia and Denmark to grab gold in 6:02:28 seconds. Rowing SA’s Susan Ford said the team surprised the world. “Nobody expected a win except us.”
National coach Roger Barrow said the team peaked at exactly the right time… and we’ve got the gold to prove it.”
Messages of joy flooded social networks. Trevor Lovell tweeted: “Whoop! Whoop! #SARowing!” Inge Nefdt tweeted: “Gold no 3 for SA!!! Well done.”