Johannesburg - Winning the 5km gold medal in the Open Water at the Fina World Championships was
only a small token of Chad Ho’s appreciation to strangers who helped to fund
his dream of representing his country in Russia last month.
The 25-year-old Ho
continues to be a pioneer of his sport in the county six years after he made
history as the first South African to win a medal in open water swimming in
Rome in 2009.
To add to his achievement,
the Durbanite was forced to get out the begging bowl and use a crowd-funding
platform to raise money to go to the championships.
“We were told that we had
to pay a portion of the trip. Once we got the invoice we put it out there to
crowd-fund it and find people who can help,” Ho said.
“It was amazing, the
response was great, people all over the world donated trying to help and I
managed to raise the money and pay for that invoice.
“I went there and I didn’t
disappoint, maybe in the 10km but I managed to say thank you a little bit by
achieving what I did.”
With the use of
crowd-funding website dreamfuel.me he raised
the $1 500 he had targeted for the world championships.
Ho won the race by the narrowest of margins beating
Germany’s Rob Muffels in a photo-finish with the two posting
matching times of 55:17.6.
Muffels claimed the silver
medal while Matteo Furlan of Italy bagged the bronze in a time of
While Ho made history
bagging the gold medal in th 5km, he missed out on automatic qualification
for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the 10km event.
Finishing in 19th
place, Ho needed a Top 10 finish to ensure his place at the Games but will now
have to do it next year at the Fina Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier in Setubal,
Ho made his Olympic debut
in Beijing 2008 as an 18-year-old where he finished in a creditable ninth
His confidence took a
knock after he failed to qualify for the 2012 London Games but instead of
wallowing, he upped the ante in the pursuit of realising his dream.
“I questioned what I
needed to do next and I took a bit of a break to get motivated again,” Ho said.
“I trained really hard for
the championships in Barcelona (2013) and after doing so well there my
confidence came back finishing fourth in the 5km and eighth in the 10km.
“From that I motivated
myself to train harder and better to be at the top again and try and
qualify for the Olympics.”
The six-time Midmar
champion averages between 70- to 80km of swimming per week which
amounts to 300km per month.
Ho will again have to turn to dreamfuel.me to raise the funds for Portugal
where he needs a Top 10 finish to get him to the Rio Games.
“Swimming isn’t the most
sponsored sport so it is very hard to get sponsors but I can only try,” Ho