Lawrence Sizwe Ndlovu (RSA) on Giving Back
What does “social responsibility” and “giving back” mean to you?
To move forward in life you must give back because somebody in the past paid it forward. “Respond to a person's kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else." Today I'm an Olympic gold medallist because of many people who contributed to my rowing career such as my headmaster, Tom Price.
How has your involvement in rowing influenced the ways in which you give back?
I've been privileged to be involved in progammes that allow me to give back. I'm an ambassador for peace, advocating and promoting peace. Along with my friend Gugu Zulu, the South African rally race car driver, we have mentored young athletes through the Stormes River 3-day Cycle Challenge and the Lesotho Sky 7-day Cycle Challenge at Diepsloot Mountain Biking Academy. Gugu and I are athletes and keen mountain bikers, but mostly we love to give back. Even outside of our normal sports we are able to give back. The academy conducts weekly physical training sessions, educates youth with life skills and encourages those in the Diepsloot community to be active and healthy instead of looming in the streets and getting into trouble.
How has giving back affected your relationship to sport / your goals as an elite athlete?
I have recently started coaching at Wemmer Pan Rowing Club. Wemmer Pan Rowing club is comprised of mainly of kids from underprivileged backgrounds. We try to assist them in realizing their dreams as rowing professionals.
What lessons from rowing and sport have helped you?
My rowing career began 18 years ago at Mondeor High School in the south of Johannesburg. My late headmaster, Tom Price, encouraged me to start rowing. I was one of four black students that started rowing that season and by the end of the season, I was the only one left! Tom saw something in me no one else did. His passion, commitment and continuous support ensured a solid foundation and my success was birthed from that. Rowing for me isn't a sport, it`s a lifestyle!
Have you had any setbacks? Has your involvement in sport influenced how you deal with these?
I have had financial setbacks which led me to do more than one job in order for me to fulfill personal obligations. While doing so, I had to ensure that it didn’t affect my rowing career. I managed to do this and achieve the things I wanted. Over the years, rowing taught me discipline, focus and perseverance which is what got me through that period.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to “give back” but doesn’t know how?
They must find their passion and extend their hand to those in need. It`s not about financial fulfillment, but the emotional fulfillment of helping another individual.