Road to London: Lawrence Ndlovu

2012-06-11 10:28

Cape Town - In the 12th in a series of Q 'n A style interviews with South African sportsmen and women ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Graeme Joffe chats to SA rower, Lawrence Ndlovu.

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Road to London: Kate Woods

Road to London: Cameron van der Burgh
Road to London: Mbulaeni Mulaudzi

Road to London: Gideon Sam

Road to London: Marcus Retief

Road to London: Freedom Chiya

Road to London: Irvette van Blerk

Road to London: Chad le Clos

Road to London: LJ van Zyl

Road to London: Marc Mundell

Road to London: Kate Roberts

GRAEME JOFFE: South African rower, Lawrence Ndlovu, named in the provisional team going to London. Congrats. Exciting times ahead.
LAWRENCE NDLOVU: Thanks Graeme. Ja, exciting times ahead, just a bit nervous. We’ve been training hard and preparations have been very though.

JOFFE: I know you been training hard because I struggled to get hold of you guys.
NDLOVU: (laughter), Ja, we’ve been competing in Switzerland and training every day. 

JOFFE: Speaking of Switzerland, your four man lightweight crew won silver in the World Cup regatta. So, preparations for London all going according to plan?

NDLOVU: Yes, I think the camp that we had prior to that and the camps before that obviously, have been paying off. We’ve been training three times a day and with all of that, I think we are ready for it. We still have some more work to do in the next few weeks, before the games, but by the time it comes, we will be more than ready.

JOFFE: Just looking at the four man crew: John Smith who is 22, Matthew Brittain is 25, James Thompson is 26, you are the “grandpa” of the team at age 32.
NDLOVU: (laughter) what do you mean (laughter).

JOFFE: How long have you been rowing for and the Olympics obviously  a dream come true for you?
NDLOVU: Yes it has been eleven years, I think it took me eleven years to qualify for Olympics. The past two have been difficult, we missed qualification by not that much but the experience does help.  I must say, you get to know who you are dealing with in the event that we are in, so it is a tough event, but we are all equal, the boats are the same and it is just whoever is ready, whoever is more hungry.

JOFFE: What qualifies for lightweight? I’m 108kg - have I got a chance?
NDLOVU: (laughter) Hey, we need to be 70kg, so you’ve got quite a bit to lose! (laughter). No lightweight, we all have to weigh 70kg, all four of us in the boat. Maybe one can weigh 72kg and we can donate amongst each other. So, if anyone is having a tough day, we share the weight and we work together to that.

JOFFE: In 2009, you finished top 10 in the single sculls in the World Cup in Poland. Do you prefer rowing alone or in a team?
NDLOVU: Yes, in 2009, I came ninth in the World Cup in the single. It was the lightweight and unfortunately there is no Olympic boat for the lightweight sculls, it is only heavy.  I love it, I enjoy it, the lightweight four. When things are going well, you are always going to love it and obviously if things aren’t going well, you aren’t going to love it. You are always going to blame three people but it has been good. I am enjoying it, I am loving it.

JOFFE: Most of your training, is that done at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria?
NDLOVU: Yes our gym work is done at the HPC and our physio’s and doctors are there. We use Roodeplaat Dam and training camps in the Free State.

JOFFE: I want to know more about Lawrence Ndlovu - where you grew up and how you got into rowing?
NDLOVU: Lawrence Ndlovu was born in Johannesburg and was bred in Newcastle, Natal.  I came to Joburg to do high school, went to Mondeor High in the south and that is when I started rowing in 1997. There was a whole lot of sport that you could choose from but rowing was quite interesting, so I tried that, and I enjoyed it and rowing began there.

JOFFE: Mondeor High School had a proud rowing tradition. If I’m not mistaken, the headmaster at the time was a rowing fanatic but sadly, I think he’s passed on.
NDLOVU: Yes, he was the man, Tom Price. He was actually the one who saw the potential in me and encouraged me to row. He used to pick me up in the mornings at 5am, make me train before classes, then go to school and also train in the afternoons. That was Tom Price, what a great man. He passed away in 2006.

GRAEME JOFFE: Sad. Apart from the incredible help that Tom gave you, if you look at role models in rowing over the years, we’ve had some great rowers, Ramon di Clemente, Donovan Cech just to name a couple. Are these role models for you?
NDLOVU: Yes, of course. We used to train with them, we used to tour with them, we respected those guys and. still do. They actually opened the path for us to follow and now we are going to create our own path now, which is quite good.

JOFFE: I went to Rhodes University and remember the rowers, getting up at the crack of dawn to row before lectures (not sure if they went to lectures) and I know your national team coach, Roger Barrow. He breathes, sleeps, talks and eats rowing. It’s a sport of pure dedication.
NDLOVU: Yes that is true, Roger loves rowing, we all love it. He is there with us raining or not and helps us a lot, you have got to love it.

JOFFE: And are you still studying for a Sport Science Degree?
NDLOVU: No I didn’t register this year because of all these camps coming up. With the Olympics, there isn't going to be much time, so I will go back next year to study.

JOFFE: After Olympics, some coaching as well?
NDLOVU: Yes, that is for sure.

JOFFE: Lawrence Ndlovu, been great chatting to you my brother. All the best  to you and the crew for the Olympic Games in London.
NDLOVU: Thanks very much Graeme.

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 169 and streaming worldwide on Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy