#TuksRowing: Keeling and Brittain win silver medal in Rio

Posted on August 15, 2016

Absolutely brilliant! There can be no better way to describe the fact that Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling have won the silver medal in the rowing men's pair at the Olympic Games in Rio.

This is the third time since 2004 that South Africa has won a rowing medal at the Olympic Games and it will hopefully not be the last, seeing that all four of South Africa's other crews are through to their respective finals. Watch this space. The rowers might just add one or two more medals to South Africa's tally.

'We had a quality race. Everything went as planned. We are standing on the podium right now, job done. After years and years of hard work, the whole system is working for us and we are producing results. It feels amazing,' said a jubilant Brittain (Tuks/hpc) moments after they finished.

The fact that Brittain won a silver medal must be one of the Games' biggest comeback stories. In 2014 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, but, being the fighter he is, it was never going to stop him. After months of treatment, his doctor gave him a clean bill of health in February 2015 and he was able to resume his training. The first goal he set himself was to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Brittain is the second rower in his family to win a medal at the Olympic Games. In 2012 his brother, Matthew, was part of the 'awesome foursome' that won gold in London. Matthew has never doubted his younger brother's abilities. 'Lawrence is able to put his head down and push his body harder than anyone I know and, as an athlete, that is what I respect the most.'

Keeling does not know the meaning of giving up either. In 2008 he finished fifth at the Games in Beijing, partnering Ramon di Clementi (bronze medallist in 2004). He missed out on the 2012 Games because of an injury, but this setback only served as extra motivation.

'The ultimate achievement for me was to win a medal at the Games. Everything I did in the last four years was geared to help me make that a reality. During every training session, I always focussed on what could be done to get the boat going even faster. I set my goals, stroke by stroke, day by day,' said Keeling.

New Zealand's Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, who have not been beaten in the past seven years, won the men's pair in a time of 6:59,71. Brittain and Keeling were second in 7:02,51 and Italy's Giovanni Abagnale and Marco di Constanzo were third in 7:04,52.

The South Africans impressed with the way they fought right until the end. Between 500 metres and 1 500 metres, they were in fourth place and it looked as if they were out of the running to medal. But over the last 500 metres they clawed their way to third and then second.

Regarding the other Tuks/hpc crews: John Smith and James Thompson won their semi-final in the men's lightweight double sculls. Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler were also victorious in the women's lightweight double sculls, while Lee-Ann Persse and Kate Christowitch were third in the women's pairs.

David Hunt, Vince Breet, Jonty Smith and Jake Green deserve to be complimented for the way they fought back to finish second in their men's fours semi-final. What made their performance even more special is the fact that they had to go through the repechage to progress to the semi-final.

 

- Author Wilhelm de Swardt
Published by Ansa Heyl

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