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Veteran Ndlovu still motivated by 2012’s golden memories
- Updated: February 11, 2015
At the ‘ripe old age’ of 34 Sizwe Ndlovu is certainly the ‘old man’ of the Olympian rowing squad based at the Tuks High Performance Centre (hpc) in Pretoria. However, this does not mean that he is slowing down at all.
Ndlovu, if anything, is even more motivated now than he was 17 years ago when he started out as a rower at Mondeor High School in Johannesburg.
‘If there are times when I might feel slightly demotivated, I just take a long hard look at the gold medal we won at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and then I know again why I am still willing to sacrifice so much and put in all the long hours of hard training,’ said Ndlovu. He was a member of the South African team who won the men’s lightweight coxless four-event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. His teammates were James Thompson, John Smith and Matthew Brittain.
But helping his teammates to get the boat to move faster through the water is not the only challenge Ndlovu has to face these days. Towards the end of last year he was selected as a member of the Athletes Commission of FISA (the international rowing body). He has replaced James Lindsay-Fynn from Great Britain to represent lightweight male rowers until the end of December 2015.
This new title will require Ndlovu to work with the Executive Committee of FISA to address the needs and issues of the world’s rowers in lightweight events. His responsibilities may also include influencing FISA’s decision-making by conveying the athletes’ point of view.
‘It’s real great honour for me. If I should be able, even in a small way, to make a contribution toward better international rowing, it would be very special,’ the ever humble Ndlovu said.
However, the most important goal for Ndlovu and his training mates this season will be to qualify boats for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
This does not mean that winning races has lost any of its importance. According to Ndlovu: ‘To end my competitive rowing career by winning another medal at the Olympics would be a dream come true.’
Unfortunately, a lower back injury is slowing him down slightly at the moment, but he is confident that his injury woes will soon be something of the past.
The injury is certainly not going to prevent him from competing in the Buffalo Regatta (commonly known among rowers as ‘The Grand’) on Saturday in East London. It will be the 128th staging of the event which makes it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, sporting events in South Africa.
In South African rowing circles there is saying that you cannot call yourself a real rower until you have won ‘The Grand’ at least once. This is why the Regatta is a major highlight on the South African rowing calendar. The trophies awarded for the Buffalo Grand Challenge (Senior-A Coxless Fours) and the Silver Sculls (Senior-A Single Sculls) are commonly regarded to be of the most valuable trophies awarded for any sport in Southern Africa. They are made of pure silver and are insured for over a million rand. ‘The Grand’ trophy measures a height of 1.2m.
During the last few years ‘The Grand’ has developed into a titanic battle between the light-weight and heavy-weight crews.
Ndlovu and his Olympic mates were victorious the past two years.
Ndlovu’s advice to youngsters at the beginning of their rowing careers is that, to succeed, they need to be disciplined, dedicated and be able to persevere as well. Above all they should enjoy what they do.
‘Remember it took me nearly 15 years to win gold at the Olympic Games.’