Meet SA's fastest man - on sand!

Ryle de Morny (
Ryle de Morny (

Cape Town - Ryle de Morny is the quickest man on beach sand in South Africa and for the best part of the last decade he has been the fastest in the world.

De Morny is a double gold medal world champion, consistently the number one beach sprinter on the planet and the man who since 2008 has set the standards globally in the beach sprinting and beach flags disciplines of LifeSaving.

He will be among the marque competitors at the General Tire/LifeSaving South Africa National Championships at Camps Bay at the end of this month.

Get to Camps Bay from March 29 to April 1 and get a glimpse of Cape Town’s very own Superman because he’s among the unheralded heroes of a sport that commands little media exposure, but whose very existence demands respect and recognition.

De Morny’s been a lifeguard for the past 20 years and despite his World Champion heroics you’ll still find him working a day job and doing his weekend Lifeguard duties at False Bay LifeSaving Club.

He has served his community since the age of eight, aided in numerous sea rescues over the years and experienced the euphoria of saving another’s life.

Yet if he walked down the street in the city of his birth he wouldn’t get a glance in acknowledgement of his sporting achievements, let alone his lifesaving weekend routines.

South Africa’s sporting media invests in mainline sports when it comes to celebrating gold and winning. Smaller sporting codes struggle but technically there isn’t a code bigger in relevance than those whose priority it is to prevent drownings.

De Morny’s passion remains true to the ethos of why he wanted to be a lifeguard as an eight year old. He wanted to make a difference and be significant to his community. He also loved the ocean and the beach and the sporting element that tests the athletic ability of an individual to be strong in the sand, in the surf and in the mind. You have to be able to run, swim and think. You also have to possess a passion and spirit that serves more than the desire to be served.

He acknowledges it would be wonderful if there were greater investment in the sporting aspect, so that volunteers could make a professional career out of lifesaving.

He doesn’t disguise his disappointment at the lack of exposure to his World Championship-winning exploits over the last decade, but it’s a contented sigh to a question rather than a growled statement enticing a question.

De Morny emphasis the essence of being a lifeguard is to prevent drownings and secure a safer water environment. The bonus, he says, is to compete and win. The real victories, he says, come in every volunteer shift.

He talks of LifeSavingSA volunteers as a collective and never talks in the singular. It’s a culture that thrives because of the collective.

He describes the community as special by nature of their willingness to sacrifice and give unconditionally. He also describes them as bloody competitive and determined to make a difference.

De Morny’s social media profile reads: ‘Game-changer, flag and sprint specialist, Usain Bolt’s successor, Fifa and call of duty extraordinaire, entrepreneur and co founder Evolv Concepts’

Nowhere does it tell you this:

- 2008 World Championships: Silver in Beach Sprints and Bronze in Beach Flags Sprints

- 2010 World Championships: Gold in Beach Sprints and Bronze in Beach Flags Sprints

- 2012 World Championships: Silver in Beach Sprints and Gold in Beach Flags Sprints

- 2014 World Championships: Gold in Beach Sprints and Gold in Beach Flags Sprints

- 2016 World Championships: Silver in Beach Sprints and Silver in Beach Flags Sprints.

Equally, nowhere does it tell you how many life rescues he has made.

LifeSaving South Africa’s rescues exceed 120 000 and the culture is to applaud the team and not make heroes out of individuals.

But when it comes to the sport of LifeSaving there must be a podium that puts the gold, silver and bronze of De Morny’s World Championship medals on display, if only to inspire the next generation of South African would be sporting world champions.

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