Cape Town - A decade after a
record-breaking three minutes and 13 seconds were etched in sporting history as
four South African swimmers claimed victory at the 2004 Olympic Games - Ryk
Neethling, who swam the final length of the 4x100 relay, has made the
astonishing decision to donate his Olympic gold medal.
This unique gesture is believed to be the
first of its kind by a South African.
form of giving back to the institution that contributed much to who he is today
- a swimming victor, turned successful businessman, Neethling will be handing
over the medal to his alma mater, Grey College in Bloemfontein at a ceremony that
will be held at the school in February 2015.
It is sure to be a moving occasion as the
moment of triumph, shared with Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian
Townsend, is reflected upon.
greatest hope is that the medal will encourage young, aspiring sportspeople to
go after their dreams and to achieve what may seem impossible to them,”
Neethling, the medal is more than just a valuable object; it’s a symbol of a
life-changing moment, many years of determination, hard work and sacrifice.
However, he has come to the realisation that, rather than keeping it in a safe
for no eye to see; visibly displayed, it has the potential to inspire.
“It’s not easy to let go of something that
represents a meaningful chapter of my life; but in a sense, the medal and what
it stands for has worked for me by opening doors to opportunity and now I feel
it’s the right time to let the medal work for others by inspiring them to
pursue similar experiences in their own lives.”
College is renowned for its sporting excellence and is thus, even more so, a
fitting choice of institution at which to house the medal.
Scheepers, Headmaster at Grey College, commented “Ryk is known for his modesty
and commitment towards Grey College. The fact that he is prepared to donate his
Olympic gold medal - the first and only Olympic gold medal ever won by an Old
Grey - to his alma mater, bears testimony to his loyalty towards, and respect
for the school. He is a true inspiration to the school as well as the Grey
College community, and his gold medal will find a special place in the Grey
Museum for future generations to appreciate.”
Never stopping at second best, Neethling has
since continued to forge his way to success, continually ensuring that he
encourages others to do so along the way. Based on this ethos, he established
the Ryk Neethling™ Swimming Stars™ schools that are dotted across the country
in five locations. He furthermore helps manage the sporting careers of swimmer,
Cameron van der Burgh, and a number of other talented athletes.
Neethling is now a full-time businessman who
wears many hats at Val de Vie Estate in the Western Cape, where he has invested
his time and efforts as a shareholder and Marketing Director for the past five