Meet PMB’s 11 Olympians

2008-08-07 00:00

AS the 2008 Olympic Games begin in Beijing today (2 pm SA time), there will be a keen local interest in what happens over the next 17 days.

There are no fewer than 11 athletes who will fly the Pietermaritzburg flag proudly.

Epworth’s Vuyisanani Mangisa (class of 2005) will be in goal for the women’s hockey side. Ann Fincham, Epworth’s marketing manager, passed on the school’s good wishes.

“Our hearts and thoughts will be with Sanani in Beijing, and we are extremely proud of her achievements,” Fincham said.

To reinforce the midlands region’s strong reputation in hockey circles, four Maritzburg College old boys and current UKZN students have made the men’s team.

Senior player Darryn Gallagher (1995) will be joined by Tommy Hammond (2002), Marvin Harper (2003) and Geoff Abbott (2003).

Hammond, who has featured in a World Cup for South Africa, said before leaving that he was excited about going to the ultimate sports event in the world.

“I’m obviously a bit nervous, but very excited too. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and we will do our best to make the country proud,” he said.

Director of sport at College, Mike Bechet, said the school is particularly proud of the quartet, who all came through the local ranks to make it to the top.

“All of these young men have put their lives to achieving the Olympic dream … and we … will be following the team’s progress keenly.”

Swimmer Darian Townsend, a 2004 Olympic gold medallist (men’s 4x100 metres freestyle relay), is again in the swimming team, and has shown impressive form to surge past the likes of Ryk Neethling in trials.

Townsend (College 2002), now based in the U.S., is joined by another former Collegian in South African 400 m track champion Sibusiso Sishi (College 2003).

Sishi will form part of the SA 4x400 m relay team. College headmaster Ron Jury passed on the school’s wishes for all six athletes.

“To reach these levels, these young men have put in an immense amount of hard work and they thoroughly deserve the accolades that come their way,” Jury said.

Four members of South Africa’s canoeing team are from Pietermaritzburg, though none of them lives in the city anymore.

Jenny Hodson will carry SA’s medal hopes in the 500 m K1 event. PMB-schooled Hodson, whose parents live in Creighton, has been training in Gauteng for the past three years. Former Girls’ High School pupil Carol Joyce, who will take part in the K4, has trained and lived in Gauteng for four years.

Two canoeists from the Robert Lembethe Canoe Club, which finds and trains young local talent at Nagle Dam — Cyprian Ngidi and Siboniso “Master” Cele — will take part in the slalom event.

Msunduzi Municipality Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo passed on the city’s good wishes to all the athletes. “To be chosen to perform on such a platform is an honour on its own.

The City of Choice wishes them and the rest of Team South Africa all the best in Beijing. May their talent and commitment pay off and may they do our country proud,” she said in a statement.

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