Tears of joy: win takes SA rowing to new heights

2012-08-03 00:00

“WE showed what ‘national BMT’ (big match temperament) really means.”

Those were an ecstatic Matthew Brittain’s first words to Wimpie du Plessis, chairperson of Rowing South Africa, moments after he, Sizwe Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson won the men’s lightweight four rowing gold.

Du Plessis said the victory put her in an awkward position. “I am one of the technical referees at the Games and I have to remain neutral, but I couldn’t contain myself when the South African team won.

“Almost every South African involved with this team cried, because we were just so happy.”

Tobey Sutcliffe, the manager of the University of Pretoria High Performance Centre where the team have been preparing for the last eight years, said the gold medal took him completely by surprise.

“The plan was the that team would win gold in four years’ time in Rio.”

When coach Roger Barrow phoned after the race “he was crying and I screamed with joy and then we were both crying. What we said to each other in the next few seconds can’t be repeated in decent company”.

Ramon di Clementi, who won silver with Donovan Cech in the coxless pairs at Athens, said the victory would take SA rowing to new heights.

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