WINDSOR, England — Three years ago, Sizwe Ndlovu gave up his job as an computer technician in South Africa to pursue an Olympic gold medal in rowing at the London Games. It seemed a far-fetched quest.
For one, his country didn’t have much of an international pedigree in the sport. And he was a black man from KwaZulu-Natal province, where sporting prowess was traditionally confined to rugby, cricket, soccer and swimming.
So when Ndlovu realized he had stroked South Africa’s lightweight men’s four to a 0.25-second victory Thursday over the favored British to win South Africa’s first gold medal in the sport, he leapt into the arms of each of his crew, not quite believing the names next to the No. 1 position on the big TV screen.
The win will make Ndlovu and fellow crew members James Thompson, Matthew Brittain and John Smith iconic figures back home.
“I am the first black man in South African rowing (to win gold),” he told The Associated Press. “I feel very proud of that and for people in Africa to see what I’ve been doing.”
It will also mean a royal reception from the Zulu tribal king in his home province when he returns.
“He will be received as a prince or a king,” South African chef de mission Patience Shikwambana said. “We call KwaZulu-Natal ‘The Kingdom.’ So that means when he gets there, the king is going to come and welcome him and say, ‘Yes boy, you’ve done us proud.’”
Shikwambana said he hoped the 31-year-old Ndlovu, who is due to start a degree in sports science after the Olympics, will inspire a new generation to take up rowing instead of traditional sports like soccer.
“People normally ask you, ‘Why do you do rowing?’” Ndlovu said. “It’s costly and it takes up a lot of time. You can’t just
Category: Africa News