As Sunday’s Comrades Marathon draws nearer, a former Rhodes student is gearing up to defend his title.
Lindsey Parry - who coaches reigning women’s champion Caroline Wöstmann - as well as last year’s runner-up, Charné Bosman, is confident that the former can become the first athlete ever to win both the Two Oceans and Comrades Marathons in successive years.
To national triathlon coach Parry, this would be another notch on an already impressive coaching CV that includes Olympic experience from London’s 2012 games. However, the former human kinetics and ergonomics (HKE) and zoology student admitted that during his time at Rhodes, he nearly abandoned his dream of working in professional sport altogether.
“I think by the time I went to university, I had worked out well enough that I was never going to be a professional sportsman, so I was going to find another way in professional sport,” the former Rhodes Athletics Club member said.
“Honestly, that changed here and there as I went along. While I was at Rhodes, I almost changed my degree and went into Law. In fact, I’d registered to do an LLB before I got accepted to do postgrad studies in Natal - and then I decided actually to carry on and see where it would take me in sport.”
If word from two of his top athletes is anything to go by, then the path he chose has taken him far.
Wöstmann was unreserved in her praise for Parry, stating: “The structure; the stability of having a programme and a coach to discuss things with - that’s how I feel that he’s benefitted me the most… He definitely helped me reach my potential. I wouldn’t have been able to do that by myself.”
For Irvette van Zyl - one of the three confirmed marathon athletes on South Africa’s Olympic team and this year’s Two Oceans half-marathon winner, Parry has been an inspiration.
“I started training with Lindsey [in] October 2013. I had just got knee surgery and was in a bad spot with my running - being negative and not knowing if I will run good [Sic] again. Lindsey was the one who kept being positive, working with my head, and telling me I am good enough,” she said.
Although Parry never felt that he himself was good enough athlete to compete for top honours, he will hope to prove to the world once more on Sunday that he is more than competent when it comes to coaching those who can.