My Olympic dream

2012-08-04 20:10

When most of his peers were choosing football, cricket or rugby, Lawrence Sizwe Ndlovu was venturing into a different sporting code - rowing.

Growing up in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, the 31-year-old said he was exposed to athletics and dams.

“Back in my childhood, I was mostly exposed to athletics and the Zulu dance, which I can’t say was a sport,” said Ndlovu, who was crowned an Olympic champion in the men’s lightweight four, together with his team-mates John Smith, James Thompson and Matthew Brittain.

Hosts and favourites Great Britain won silver and bronze went to Denmark.

Ndlovu, from a family of five children, said he hoped their victory would inspire fellow black South Africans to get into rowing.

“A lot of black South Africans shy away from water sports. Although rowing is expensive, I had a zero balance in my pocket when I started and look where I am now.”

The doors opened for Ndlovu at Mondeor High School in Johannesburg, where he flourished on the water.

“There are more convent schools in Joburg and there are rowing clubs as well. If you want to do it, there are opportunities at school and university level.

“That’s how I started. Aspiring youngsters can go onto the internet for more information,” he said.

But Ndlovu, who lost both his parents in 2007 and 2008, said he needed to get a day job to earn a living.

He said he felt the burden of balancing work and rowing.

“I had to let go of my job as an IT field technician in 2009 to pursue my Olympic dream, but I don’t regret it.”

In fact, Ndlovu said working and trying to row cost him a place at the 2004 Athens Olympics and Beijing in 2008.

Team South Africa rowing coach Paul Jackson said of his charge: “Sizwe has been going for 10 years and the other three for six years.

“He has a good feel for the boat and the run of the boat. He and John (Smith) work together as the stroke pair - they are strong athletes.”

Off the water, Ndlovu is a sports science student at the University of Pretoria and together with his fellow London gold medallists, races for the Tuks Rowing Club.

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