Athlete of the Month – February 2013

When the South African lightweight men’s four crossed the finish line at the London 2012 Olympic Games they added a new chapter to rowing history. Not only was this the first ever gold medal in rowing for South Africa, but it was also a first for the whole of Africa. Sitting in stroke seat was the most senior member of the crew, Lawrence Ndlovu. Lawrence began rowing over a decade ago and has had to overcome injury and illness to become one of South Africa’s best rowers.

Lawrence was recovering from an infection when he talked to World Rowing but despite health setbacks Lawrence is determined to continue. For that World Rowing is proud to present Lawrence as the February 2013 Athlete of the Month.

Part I

World Rowing: Where are you at present?
Lawrence Ndlovu:
I’m in Pretoria

WR: Describe a typical day at present?
At the moment my day starts at 7:30am with a cup of coffee and cereal. At 8am I do stretching and then core exercises. I’m done by 9:30 and then I stay horizontal the whole day, have lunch at 13:00 and then watch movies and some reading. At the moment I’m not rowing due to a lower back injury.

WR: What are your (rowing related) plans for the month of February?
My plan for February is to recover from my lower back injury with lots of rehab and pain management.

WR: Since the London Olympics have you been training much?
I only started training in December 2012. I’m not in the rowing boat yet but I have been doing cross-training and gym.

WR: Since London you have become the World Rowing Crew of the Year. What other awards and accolades have come your way?
We were the South African Sports Team of the Year. All of the (Olympic) gold medallists each received a cow from  a guy called Jan Braai. I am Sportsman of the Year for 2012 at the University of Pretoria. We (the lightweight four crew) raced Ferraris (watch it here!) and we have been attending lots of different events and doing corporate talks.

WR: How has the Olympic gold medal altered your life?
Life has changed a lot. I have new challenges; one of them is public speaking. It’s been exciting to share the experience of the Olympics as a gold medallist, and the challenges that we had to overcome through the preparations for the Olympics. As a four, we have been travelling around South Africa sharing the story with few a corporate companies and schools. I look forward to going international.

WR: When you walk down the street do people recognise you?
Some people do, some don’t. I have been asked for my autograph and lots of pictures taken with me.

WR: Name a couple of things you have done since winning your Olympic medal that you never would have imagined doing.
Corporate talks, attended lots of red carpet events, Miss South Africa 2012 in Sun City, Miss Earth, the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City and doing lots of school talks motivating kids.

WR: If you could go back and give yourself advice as a teenager what would it be?
Dream gold, when you train, train for gold, so when you succeed you will get gold. But do achieve all this with discipline, confidence and humbleness!!! Don’t leave out education!

WR: What do you tell people starting out in rowing who ask you what it’s like to be a rower?  
I tell them it’s a tough sport, it’s not for sissies. It requires a lot of patience, perseverance, discipline, time management and a hunger for success.

Part II

World Rowing: In the last interview you talked about recovering from a back injury. Is this something you’ve had for a while or a recent injury?
Lawrence Ndlovu:
I’ve had this injury since November 2010.

WR: What kind of exercises are you doing as part of the rehabilitation?
I’m doing core exercises; sit ups, bridge, leg raise and swimming.

WR: Do you have a favourite workout? What about least favourite?
My favourite workout is leg press and least favourite is bench press.

WR: When was the last time that you were in a rowing boat?
LN: The last time (I was) in the boat was in the scull on Thursday 21st February this year. Before that it was the Olympic final.

WR: Being a lightweight rower are there some favourite foods that you have to cut out when you need to make weight?
Of course there is a lot of food that I have to cut out when I have to get to weight; pizza, pap (porridge), meat and sometimes McDonalds.

WR: What is your favourite boat to row?
The single scull is my favourite boat to row.

WR: Since your gold medal you’ve been doing public speaking. Tell me some of the interesting questions or requests you’ve had from the kids.
LN: The most popular question that we get from kids is: “How does it feel to be an Olympian?”

WR: Do you still get requests to bring out your medal?
The requests to see the medal have stopped now, but the question I get all the time is: “Where do you keep your medal?”

WR: What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t rowing?
Water polo or athletics; 800m or 1500m.

WR: What are your future plans in rowing?
The 2012 Olympic Games came and went and now my eyes are on the 2016 Games.