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Team SA’s sisters of success at Rio Olympics

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By Mark Etheridge

British group, the Eurythmics and American soul singer Aretha Franklin sang their iconic song ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves’ back in 1985. Now, some 31 years later, Team South Africa at the Olympics here also have two sisters.
The difference being though, that these two sisters aren’t doing it for themselves, they’re doing it for each other and everyone who’s had a part in their amazing road to Rio 2016.
Alyssa, 25, and Simoné Conley (who celebrates her 28th birthday in Brasilia on Friday) are both part of Team South Africa here in Rio, despite currently being a thousand kilometres apart.
Younger sister Alyssa  is an athletics track 100/200m sprinter with Team SA in the Athletes’ Village, while Simoné  is a bio-kineticist with the men’s Under-23 football side up in the city of Brasilia.
The daughters of Lloyd and Elize Conley, Road to Rio 2016 asked the ‘Sisters of Success’ to explain just how much the realisation of their dream means to them.

ALYSSA
‘This is just the most amazing honour… back in 2014 we spoke to each other after a track session she had helped me get through (because when I had no coach she often came through to help me).
‘It was one day at Soweto campus as we lay on the grass looking up into clear blue sky and spoke about our lives and where we are and what we wanted to achieve. We then both pledged to ourselves the 2016 Olympics goal and that we’d help each other to make the dream a reality.
‘She’s been there as my bio and most importantly as my sister, motivating me, believing in me and I hope she realises I was there for her. So yes, at this point we’re both preparing.
‘I’ve always said she’s my role model but she’s always set an example, both sporting wise and academically… If if she could do it I could. At Mondeor High School she was made head girl and I thought “how awesome can that be. If she can do it then I can”. And I did. So I’ve always aspired to her. We come from a very Christian-rooted family where sacrifice and hard work are rewarded.. we always knew if we worked hard there’d be rewards.
‘We were also taught discipline… only we know all the tears and sacrifice, hard work, fights, down moments, joyful moments etc. that we’ve put in to our lives.
‘This is a huge achievement for us and I’m thankful to everyone involved. We always give praise to God for what he has blessed us with.
‘But this is only the beginning of our journey to success. Our passions can be way different but we have so much in common. As sisters we want to be successful and inspire other women to do the same.
‘This one’s for you, mom and dad.’

SIMONÉ
‘What a surreal feeling that we’re going. It’s always been our goal and our dream and I’m just so grateful. It was only a  few years ago we decided to do this and I made her goal my goal… that was to go there to help her get there and support her. As much as she wanted it for herself was as much as I wanted. So it’s an immense satisfaction. Her being chosen is all the hard work she has put in. Actually it reminds me of a bible verse. Isaiah 40, Verse 31 and it goes like this: ‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not be faint… ‘
‘Alyssa went through her injuries and thought it wouldn’t happen but I reminded her that nothing was impossible and now I’m incredibly proud and overjoyed for her. Being in rehab doing biokinetics etc for a whole year out of athletics can take it out of you but she is so strong and courageous and a real go-getter. With regards to me I’ve also worked heard and wanted to make a difference in football and work in sport.
‘I’m now with the cream of the crop of SA football, the future, these boys will make their mark. I’m also glad to have a great calibre of coaches I’m working with.
‘All my hard work is paying off… I cum lauded my degrees and now I know why. I’m officially an Olympian. As sisters we are very close, our bond is unbreakable. We are also very grateful for our parents as they’ve raised us in a  way that can’t be described. They instilled the qualities we live by and have been there for us a big part of this is because how they have raised us and also thanks to the rest of our family and friends… a major blessing from God!
‘This one’s for you, mom and dad.’


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