Olympic medallists inspire Etanans
It’s not every day that you get to be in a room with an Olympic gold medallist. Now imagine being in a room with the entire group of South African 2012 Olympic gold and silver medal winners!
Etanans today joined over 500 people, with special guests, Chad Le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh, Caster Semenya and the coxless four rowing gold medal team, to celebrate South Africa’s recent Olympic success. In Beijing, South Africa won a silver medal, this time around the team came home with three gold medals, two silver and a bronze.
Le Clos took swimming gold in the 200m butterfly and silver in the 100m butterfly, while Van der Burgh won gold in the 100m breaststroke. Semenya won silver in the athletics 800m and the coxless four rowing team, consisting of Sizwe Ndlovu, Matthew Brittain, John Smith and James Thompson, took gold in the men’s lightweight four final.
Guests were given an opportunity to ask questions of the medalists.
In a Q&A session at the event, Etana staffer Joshua Ndou asked how many girlfriends Le Clos had after winning a gold medal at the Olympics. “No girlfriends,” the swimmer answered. He later explained that he did not have time for girlfriends.
The medallists entertained guests with their witty answers and banter amongst each other, but it was mostly rower John Smith who had the crowd eating out of his hand. He shared the rowers’ secret weapon for losing weight: “M&Ms, the peanut flavour. You just pop one or two bags during the day and the weight just falls off.”
Talking about the winning moment Brittain said: “I thought we had finished fourth. I thought, ‘not bad for our first Olympics’. I didn’t know we were in the lead… if you try to explain that moment it was like.. If you are trying to fall pregnant, you don’t have nine months to wait for the baby, then you just have the baby’‘.
Ndlovu spoke about how the team came together and said the formula for success was hard work. “Everyone has a job in the team, the teamwork is incredible.’’
Thompson explained their grueling training regime saying: “We row at least once a day and you will see us on the rowing machines at the gym. Every second day we run.’’
Emcee David O’Sullivan told guests that the rowers’ win would be featured in a book about key moments of the 2012 Olympics.
Semenya talked about gearing up for her medal-winning race. She said: “I knew I had to come back with a medal. I was a little scared after the race. I went back to my coach and she said ‘You ran crap’.’’
When asked how the noise from the crowds at the Olympic stadium affected her, she answered: “You hear the noise before, but when I’m running I don’t hear anything until I cross the finish line… It was a little scary.”
She had the crowd in stitches when asked what her diet was and said: “I’m from the rural areas. We just eat pap and vleis.” She added that at the Olympic village there was no pap. “Maria (Mutola, her coach) wanted me to eat no sugar, no fats …herre”.
Van der Burgh told guests that after a day that starts at 7h00 and consists mostly of training and exercise, he has time for studying “from 20h00 to about 20h30 and then a little bit of Bold and Beautiful”.
Asked how his life had changed after the Olympics, Le Clos responded: “I’m not complaining… My girlfriend broke up with me last year and when I came back, one of the first calls was from her… There’s a line [of girls] now.”
After breakfast the medalist signed autographs for all the guests. An auction of two large paintings of the medallists raised R18 000, which will be donated to the St Kana Church in Alexander, Johannesburg.