For immediate release
Lausanne 02 October 2014

World Rowing and Parmigiani Fleurier are proud to announce the finalists for the 2014 Parmigiani Spirit Award (in alphabetical order):

  • Malibongwe Cebekulu (RSA)
  • Franz Gravenhorst (GER)
  • Matthew O'Donoghue (USA)
  • Lily van den Broecke (GBR)

The panel of judges, comprising New Zealand Olympic Champion single sculler Mahe Drysdale, German World Champion and Olympian Lenka Wech, Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Jean-Marc Jacot and FISA President and Olympic Champion Jean-Christophe Rolland will now decide the winner.

"As in the inaugural year, the achievements of the nominated rowers are exceptional," says FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland. "I know that the judges will have a difficult time to select the final award winner."

The four finalists represent a range of experiences and talents, but each demonstrates the core values of the sport of rowing and through these values has enabled and inspired exceptional success in other people’s lives.  

Malibongwe Cebekulu (RSA) studies law at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. He first discovered rowing when he arrived at university in 2013, but has already been named Head of Development at the Rhodes University Rowing Club. Cebekulu is not only an active coxswain and rower, he also has worked to build, organise and coach a masters rowing programme and a new rowing programme in his home township, Makana township. Drawn to the sport despite his slender size, Cebekulu found his place on the team as a coxswain and through determination and commitment has worked tirelessly to encourage his teammates and to develop the sport of rowing.

Franz Gravenhorst (GER) is a PhD student studying Signal Processing in Sensor Networks for Healthcare and Sports Applications at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. Gravenhorst first started rowing in 2001 and immediately influenced his team’s success. His focus, determination and teamwork have inspired teammates to exceptional performances at university and other championships are the world. Demonstrating unrelenting dedication to the sport and an ideal of inclusiveness, Gravenhorst has combined sport with engineering studies to better the quality of life for patients and facilitate success in sport.

Matthew O’Donoghue (USA) is a Mechanical Engineering student at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. O’Donoghue first started rowing in 2007 and arrived at Yale in 2010. His dedication to the team and the university was immediately recognised. O’Donoghue devotes his limited spare time to volunteering and raising money for charities. He volunteers regularly with the Big Brother, Big Sister programme as a mentor and a positive male presence for a boy with a difficult family situation. Undeniably a team player, O’Donoghue received the Shedd-Crossman Award (most valuable rower) in 2014.

Lily van den Broecke studies Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Van den Broecke first started coxing in 2006 and has been an active participant in her university programme as well as the British National Team. She won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics as the coxswain of the LTA coxed four. An active member of her campus community, van den Broecke rarely has a moment to spare between volunteering at a local café for the homeless and working on a college-wide scheme to reduce the amount of food waste by donating unused food to homeless shelters. Her commitment to life balance, giving back to others and her respect for nature is incontestable.

Complete biographies of each finalist will be posted on the World Rowing website in the lead-up to the announcement of the winner in mid-October.

The winner of the Award will receive a hand-crafted Parmigiani Fleurier watch and the rowing club of the winner will be presented with a custom-made new Filippi racing eight boat. For rowers in some countries (such as the United States where NCAA regulations apply), the awards will be adjusted to conform with national eligibility regulations.

A video detailing the award can be found here.