Monaco-bound: coach off to see his star pupil become a princess

2011-06-29 00:00

CHARLENE Wittstock’s former swimming coach, Wayne Riddin, of Clarendon in Pietermaritzburg, could not be happier as he jets off to her royal wedding this week.

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Wittstock will be married this weekend in the European principality.

“They are both really nice people,” Riddin said.

He said he respects what they both do for their communities.

Wittstock attended the official opening of the Special Olympics in Athens this weekend as a representative of Monaco.

She has also been selected for the Special Olympics international board for the next three years.

Riddin says he admires Wittstock’s dedication to creating awareness locally for special athletes too.

She swam in this year’s Midmar Mile and raised R500 000 for them.

Wittstock, who was born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa, will marry her prince almost 11 years since they first met.

Riddin spoke of the occasion he gave permission to the former swimmer to go on a date with the prince while they were at a training camp in Monaco.

He agreed to the date, but jokingly insisted on a photograph with the prince. He got it and still has it today.

Riddin’s sentimental reminiscence showed in his choice of an engagement gift.

He gave Wittstock a gold swimming cap signed by all the South African swimmers who participated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

When he had all the athletes sign the cap over a decade ago, he did not think he would give it away as an engagement gift to one of the swimmers.

He is also taking over some Bafana Bafana World Cup 2010 football jerseys for the prince to ensure the royal has some green to wear to support his surrogate team.

Riddin said he has watched Wittstock mature over the years and believes she is ready to take the role of princess.

He is “feeling very privileged” to be a part of their big day.

Riddin leaves today to join the festivities and will stay with other guests at the Hermitage Hotel in Monaco.

 

 

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