Coach Barrow had that golden thought early on race day! | SASCOC - SASCOC

Coach Barrow had that golden thought early on race day!

By Mark Etheridge
in London

National rowing coach Roger Barrow said on Friday that he knew on the morning of our lightweight men’s fours historic Olympic gold medal that the boys would bring home the gold.

His young daugther, Lucy (3) cradled his arms, Barrow told Road to London 2012 that after the semi-final his hopes had been raised.

“But if you had asked me three years ago if we could win gold, I would have said not, not gold.”

But such has been the evolution of James Thompson, Lawrence Ndlovu, Matthew Britain and John Smith that they surprised even the coach.

“After the semi-final I though we’d medal. But then when I saw them yesterday morning they were so calm yet focused that I just knew they had it in them to win gold.”

The road to London has been a lengthy one for them and now all that hard work and the training camps, especially those at the Land of Pain in Tzaneen, Mpumalanga have paid off.

Barrow says the team will now have a long break until November although they’ll race the University Boat Race at Port Alfred, only Ndlovu will sit that one out.

Barrow says they’ll obviously keep this crew together for as long as possible. I’s actually scary because they are so young to be able to do this well. They’ve got a long future ÔÇô one of the Danish guys is 40 so that goes to show.

“We still joke about ‘Bean’, John Smith, still being around for 2024.

“There’s no shortage of motivation with these guys, they know they can always improve and in fact they would have loved to have won by further!”

Specific fours coach Paul Jackson also paid tribute to SA’s Olympic governing body SASCOC. “This performance is due largely to the persistent support from SASCOC and the Lotto. The gold medal result was built in 2009, 2010 and 2011. It’s the consistency that count. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a lot but if you plan around it and keep it coming you’ll see the sport grow and grow.”

On the race itself: “The whole race was set up at 1000m. I knew that we were going to medal but didn’t know about gold. It was a clinical performance, extremely tough, but their composure got them through.

“Everything went to plan, even paced but quickest in the last 500m. our splits were 1min 30sec, 1:31, 1:30 and 1:29, the same race plan as in the semis.

And what did our Fabulous Four have to say for themselves. They summed it up succintly:

Lawrence Ndlovu
“People say that from 500m out I had a smile on my face.. I was enjoying the pain but it’s not a smile. its a grin .. every stroke is concentration. I was excited but when the last 500m came some energy (I don’t know from where) kicked in. Maybe from the crowd event though it was a GB crowd.
“”In SA a lot of Africans shy away from watersports and I hope this will inspire a lot of them. Here’s hoping they can grow the sport now, both┬á in SA and Africa.”

Matthew Britain
“Support seems pretty overwhelming back home. I saw the newspaoer and we were on the front page and I wasn’t expecting that .. that made me realise how big it was . I haven’t thought too far ahead but some more sponsorships would be awesome. We’ve got some good teams in Juniors and Under-23s with consistent results at lower leveld and they feed the team .. this should inspire the school guys to carry on after school.”

John Smith
“To celebrate we had a quiet dinner with our SA families and it was actually quite civil… not in a pub or anything but we’re enjoying every minute of it. Of the race itself I actually thought we had won by a lot further.”

James Thompson
“The boys took a lot of hope from the two swimming races. That finish by Chad was incredible, it was a similar idea to us… come at the end and come hard . He’s young and we are young so it gave us belief!”

Mia Grundlingh
Mia Grundlingh

Dear Rowing Fraternity, I agree with William Gearing. All the best for the rowing fraternity in the future. I am currently a journalism student at Stellenbosch University. I am writing any article about the lack of media rowing exposure in South Africa. Why is this the case? I would love to hear from the rowers, coaches and anyone really. Kind regards, Mia Grundlingh

Wiiliam Gearing
Wiiliam Gearing

Just want to add my congratulations. Magnificent effort and well done to the whole team, including the coaches and back up. When one compares this to other top rowing nations who have full time professional coaches it makes this achievement even greater. Hopefully rowing in South Africa will continue to grow from strength to strength and get the recognition it deserves.