Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler race at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s rowing squad will receive a well-deserved financial boost after Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) was announced as the sponsor to the national squad.

RMB agreed to a three-year sponsorship of rowing, becoming the named sponsor of the National Squad which comes after a two-year association between the bank and the sport.

South African rowing under the tutelage of 2016 World Rowing Coach of the Year, Roger Barrow has reached unprecedented heights over the last two Olympic cycles.

With limited resources, the national squad won the London 2012 men’s lightweight coxless four gold medal, three World Championship medals, and the Rio 2016 men’s pair silver.

The squad qualified a record-breaking five boats for the Rio Games where all five of the crews featured in A-finals.

The sponsorship consists of a significant cash amount which is administered by the Team Powerhouse Trust (TPT) which works with Rowing South Africa (RowSA) for further development and making rowing more inclusive.

RMB would also be working with various rowing schools to support grassroots initiatives while it will also be named sponsor of four regattas across the country. The South African rowing squad has largely depended on the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) for funding through its Operation Excellence funding model.

RowSA president Sean Kerr said the sponsorship had come at the right time and would help set up the sport for the next Olympic cycle.

“Having RMB as a long-term sponsor is a huge shot in the arm for our training efforts,” Kerr said

“We will also be allocating some of the funds to take the sport to underprivileged communities through our established development programmes.”

Said RMB chief executive James Formby: “Rowing was one of the founding sports of the modern Olympic movement and South African rowers have steadily grown their medal contributions over the years. 

“With minimal financial support, the squad has had to be innovative in finding, training and supporting athletes. RMB is proud to support the team as they work to make our nation proud.”

The Star

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