A new black face in the SA senior rowing team

21 August 2018 - 16:12
By David Isaacson
File photo Lawrence Brittain at the SA rowing championships at Roodeplaat Dam near Pretoria Waldo Swiegers on March 6, 2015. © Sunday Times
Image: Waldo Swiegers. © Sunday Times File photo Lawrence Brittain at the SA rowing championships at Roodeplaat Dam near Pretoria Waldo Swiegers on March 6, 2015. © Sunday Times

Olympic silver medallist Lawrence Brittain has been named in the national rowing squad for the world championships in Bulgaria next month after proving his fitness.

Head coach Roger Barrow on Tuesday told SowetanLIVE he had picked a largely young team comprising five crews‚ including the first black rower in the senior set-up since Sizwe Ndlovu‚ who was a member of the golden lightweight four crew at London 2012.

Thabelo Masutha‚ just 19‚ won bronze at the world junior championships last year‚ but Barrow pointed out that he was ultimately aiming for the 2024 Olympics‚ not Tokyo 2020.

Competition on the man-made canal in Plovdiv from September 9-16 will be tough‚ and Barrow realises this could be the first world championship regatta since 2013 that South Africa fails to win a medal.

“It’s a very young team‚” said Barrow.

“Yes‚ it’s possible we don’t win any medals‚ but our main aim is to get three boats into A-finals.”

His three premier boats are the men’s four‚ the lightweight women’s double sculls and the men’s pair with Brittain and Jake Green‚ who are both returning from injury layoffs that kept them out of international competition for most of the year.

“They are close to good form‚” he said of the pair.

Brittain and Shaun Keeling finished second in the pairs race at the Rio Olympics.

Kirsty McCann‚ the defending world champion in the lightweight single sculls class‚ will compete in the double sculls with Nicole van Wyk.

With the lightweight singles boat not being on the Olympic roster‚ the attention is on the doubles class which is on the Tokyo 2020 menu.

But Barrow warned the division was highly competitive‚ with eight different teams having made the podium at the three World Cup regattas this year.

McCann and Van Wyk were second at the first but fourth at the third.

The men’s four — comprising veteran John Smith‚ the only survivor of the Olympic champion lightweight four squad from 2012‚ David Hunt‚ Sandro Torrente and Kyle Schoonbee — ended third at the last World Cup event.

“These are the three boats with medal potential for Tokyo‚” said Barrow.

“We want to see where they are right now. The other boats are for 2024.”

The SA squad is:

Men’s four: Kyle Schoonbee‚ David Hunt‚ John Smith‚ Sandro Torrente.

Men’s pair: Lawrence Brittain‚ Jake Green.

Lightweight women’s double sculls: Kirsty McCann‚ Nicole van Wyk.

Men’s single sculls: Thabelo Masutha.

Lightweight men’s double sculls: Vaughn Botes‚ Nick Oberholzer.

Men’s single sculls: Thabelo Masutha.