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Olympians strike gold in Grahamstown

Date Released: Mon, 8 October 2012 15:00 +0200

A rowing club in Joza is on the cards, following a visit by Olympic gold medallists Andrew Thompson and Sizwe Ndlovu to Grahamstown this week. They were here as part of an Eastern Cape Rowing Association talent search, which took place at Rhodes University's Alec Mullins Hall on Monday. Thompson and Ndlovu were in the SA lightweight men's four that won gold at the London Olympics last month.

More than 200 pupils from Grahamstown schools, including Nombulelelo High School and Diocesan School for Girls attended the indoor rowing sessions.

Grade 7 pupil Tamia Mfazi, from DSG, said she was extremely proud to meet the Olympic pair. "A lot of people undermine Africa and don't believe that we can achieve great things but these guys have shown the world that South Africa can do it," she said.

Learners were pitted against each other in a 500m rowing competition and those who clocked the fastest times earned a poster signed by the medallists.

Donovan Cech, East Cape Rowing Association president and St Andrew's College rowing coach, said he was encouraged by the raw talent and enthusiasm he had seen. "One of the fastest times we saw was one minute 40 seconds, a very good start for someone who has never rowed before," Cech said.

He said a number of pupils from Nombulelo, who were members of a running club had shown significant promise. They had the right physiology and thanks to their running had developed significant endurance - an essential quality for rowing.

Following the talent search, Cech said East Cape Rowing planned to form a rowing club in Grahamstown for pupils from government schools and others who live here.

He said he was in negotiations to secure space at the Municipal Sports Complex in Joza to set up an indoor training centre that would house four Ergo rowing machines.

"With four machines, we could start a small club with up to 30 members, which would give us a significant base to work with," Cech said. "We hope to set up indoor rowing clubs across the country because that is the first step to rowing on the water. We want to show kids that they can also be champions like Sizwe and Andrew."

Read about the special assembly at St Andrew's and the naming of the school's new boat online: wwwgrocotts.co.za

PROS IN PORT ALFRED... Nelson Mandela Township rowers Siphelo Sneyi, 14, in cox, Lindokuhle Nikelo, 15, and Buhle Ngcelwane, 14, train with Olympic gold medallists Sizwe Ndlovu and James Thompson on the Kowie River in Port Alfred. Recently home from the London Olympic Games, Thompson and Ndlovu were in the area this week looking for young rowing talent as part of the Eastern Cape Rowing Association's development programme.

Story and photo by: Nontsikelelo Mpulo

Source: Grocott’s Mail