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Survivor Brittain’s a winner before he even races in Rio

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No matter what happens in the heats of the men’s pair rowing at the Olympic Games in Rio on Saturday, Lawrence Brittain will be a winner.
The most important goal in the Olympic Games should be not to win but to take part, just as the most important goal in life should be not the triumph but the struggle. The essential objective is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
Brittain’s attitude truly symbolises what the Olympic Spirit is all about.
At the beginning of last year there was absolutely no guarantee that the Tuks/HPC rower would be able to compete at the highest level ever again as he’d just recovered from Hodgkin’s Disease (cancer of the lymph nodes).
But quitting is not a word in Brittain’s vocabulary.  He was never going to forgo his dream to become an Olympian by allowing himself to become a ‘victim’.  Because of Brittain’s never-say-die attitude the proud rowing tradition of his family is continuing without being interrupted.
In 2012 Matthew Brittain was a member of the ‘awesome foursome’ team that won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in London. Dad, David, just missed out on qualifying for the 1996 Games in Atlanta and mom, Danielle, is a team doctor for the national rowing squad.
And there may be more to come. The two younger Brittain brothers, Charles and James, are also avid rowers.
Asked about his motivation, Brittain said his goal is to finish first as often as he can.
‘I really enjoy winning. To be honest I haven’t won enough yet, so I have to keep going. I’m still hunting that feeling of being the best. My ultimate goal is to win a medal for South Africa at the Games.’
Apart from his brother, Matthew, Brittain credits Ramon di Clemente (bronze medallist at the 2004 Olympic Games) as someone who helped fuel his ambition to succeed.
‘Believe! This is what Ramon di Clemente said to me before I became an Under-23 world champion. You have to back yourself otherwise the nerves will get to you.’
Matthew Brittain describes his brother as an exceptional athlete. ‘What I admire about Lawrence is his ability to put his head down and push his body harder than anyone else. Because I’m an athlete myself that is what I respect most.’
Brittain’s partner in the men’s pair boat is Shaun Keeling who finished fifth with Di Clemente in the final at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
‘I consider my fifth place finish at the 2008 Games with Ramon as the biggest achievement of my rowing career. As far as I am concerned the Games are the ultimate sports event,’ said Keeling, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships.
Brittain and Keeling will be competing at 3:30pm (SA time) on Saturday.


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