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Jonty Smith, Vincent Breet, Jake Green and David Hunt are four names to remember this Olympic year. These four make up the men’s heavy duty four rowing team. They became South Africa’s fifth boat to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, with only two spots up for grabs at the final qualification regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland in June. Hunt and Green are UP students who have experienced a journey to qualification that has, by no means, been easy. The team missed the qualifying time at the World Rowing Championships in France last year August, and some adjustments to the team were made by promoting Lawrence Brittain (former UP student) and replacing Sizwe Ndlovu. Coach Roger Barrow said that although this was a new crew, all the athletes had performed internationally. The pressure leading up to qualification had been immense, and as Breet explained, for four years of training to come down to six minutes of racing was “mildly terrifying”.
The crew made it to finals by winning their heat and beat France with a winning time of 5:55.22. When asked about their Olympic hopes, Hunt explained that the team would not go through such intense training if they did not intend to win a podium position in Rio. The team’s biggest competitors at the games are Great Britain and Australia, but Hunt is undaunted and said, “We have one goal, and that is gold”.
Photo: Lindsey Davis.