DURBAN - THE 11 000km between former Olympic swimmer Charl Crous and his gymnast fiancée Dominique Mann, a popular Sharks flasher girl, has not stopped the flames burning in their relationship.
Crous lives in Dubai, due to his sporting commitments, where he coaches swimming with the international swimming institute, Fit Republik, while Mann is based in Durban but often trains for gymnastics at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Ccentre.
Their love is cemented by the commitment to each other and daily Skype videos and phone calls.
Every month Mann travels to Dubai or Crous comes back home to be with his fiancée.
Mann’s mother, Michelle, is a wedding planner and will be co-ordinating the couple’s New Year’s Eve wedding.
“She can bring out the best in us and what we like. She knows us and will bring the best trends with the décor. We basically decided we would do something completely different and fancy,” said Mann.
The couple are having a blissful year, with Mann qualifying for her first appearance at the World Games to take place in Poland in June.
“I have been trying to qualify for the past eight years. I never gave up. I kept on training and training and I am very excited.
“Apart from that I am still very much with the Sharks, I have been with the squad for 10 years. All my best friends are there – we grew up together,” she said.
Crous said: “We always do the same thing on New Year’s Eve – it’s all about music and partying. We want to get married on the 31st to celebrate our love and mark new beginnings with friends and family.”
The couple have been together for five years and got engaged in August. Apart from their romance, their love for sport has kept them together. Crous said he knew from “day one’ that Mann was the one.
“And you know it’s so hard and so rare to find someone with a common interest. We both come from a sporting background, we always understood each other’s schedule. When we met we instantly clicked,” he said.
Although Crous always goes all out to spoil and take care of his woman, the surprise engagement was special for Mann.
Mann said they had planned a farewell dinner for Crous before he left for Dubai but it turned out to be a celebration of their engagement.
“He took me to Zimbali to this beautiful restaurant and the waiter presented me with the most beautiful box of chocolates,” she recalled. “As I opened the chocolates, he had torn out a piece of the box and placed a ring box inside. As I placed my hand to open the box, he went down on one knee and I just burst into tears.
“It was just so magical; it was definitely ‘yes’. From there, we drove to our family and friends who were waiting at a restaurant for his farewell. We planned a farewell dinner and I didn’t know he was going to propose that night,” she said.
They celebrated their engagement on the River Seine in Paris.
“We had the best time there. We had been in Paris before, but going there as a couple was amazing. We locked in our love at the special bridge (Pont des Arts) where you buy a lock, write in your names and lock in your love. It’s a symbol of true love,” said Mann.