#TuksRowing: Olympic medallist Brittain is taking a sabbatical

Posted on February 07, 2018

At times there are those who would refer to the Olympic rowing medallist, Lawrence Brittain, as the “Beast”.

Not as an insult but as a form of endearment as he personifies the concept of never giving up. The way he went on to overcome cancer and go on to win a silver medal with Shaun Keeling at the 2016 Olympic Games is the real stuff legends are made off.

But even the toughest sometimes get to a stage where they got to admit enough is enough. For the Tuks/HPC-rower, it happened this year. That is why he has decided to take a sabbatical.

“At the moment my body is not happy with me. I think the vast volume of intense training I have doing over the last few years has worn me down a touch. It is nothing too serious. I am just taking few months off then I will start slowly to get into things. 

“My goal is to compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. 2019 is going to be important as it is the year in which we need to qualify for the Games. So not competing this year won’t be the end of the world. I need my body to be 100% from next in the build-up to the Olympic Games.”

It is understood that Jake Green (Tuks/HPC) who was part of the fours crew that finished 4th at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio is taking a break for the same reasons.

This weekend South Africa’s top rowers will be battling it out at the Buffalo Regatta in East London. A victory is something every rower who is serious about the sport wants to tick off at least once. The reason being is because it is the oldest regatta in South Africa. 

The first regatta took place in 1879. Many a rower considers it to be the “Holy Grail” of South African rowing. The unpredictable conditions on race day make it a unique challenge every time.  It can be rough because there is a current and also a bit of a tide in the river.  Sometimes there are waves which can make the water very choppy.  Usually, it is windy, but rowers never know from which direction the wind will be blowing next.

Last year Brittain joined a small elite group or rowers when he won the Silver Sculls as well as the Grand Challenge (senior coxless fours) at the Buffalo Regatta in East London.

What made winning the Grand Challenge special is that the four Brittain brothers (Matthew, Lawrence, Charles and James) teamed up to win. 

On Saturday it is left to Charles Brittain to defend the family honour.  It is not going to be easy. In all probability, it is going to boil down to a classic scenario of experience versus youth.

Brittain’s teammates are Leo Davis, James Mitchell and Luc Daffarn. They are considered to be champions in the making. 

The team they need to beat are John Smith (Olympic and World Championships medallist), Kyle Schoombee (World Championship medallist), David Hunt (Olympian) and Sandro Torrente. The past weekend at the Rock the Boat experience prevailed over youth. 

Smith (Tuks/HPC) who is also a former double winner is of the opinion that the playing field is going to be level on Saturday.

“There is a saying. ‘You are the best, that is nice, but this is the Buffalo anything can happen. Anyone can win if they have the will for it as we are racing on a river which never makes for fair racing.”


- Author Wilhelm de Swardt
Published by Leonore Jordaan

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