MEET LAWRENCE BRITTAIN, THE SOUTH AFRICAN ROWER WHO DEFIED ALL THE ODDS TO TAKE SILVER AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES RIO 2016 AFTER BEATING CANCER LESS THAN TWO YEARS BEFORE.
Lawrence Brittain was raised in a family of rowing fanatics, most with national colours to show for it. So naturally, it wasn't long before he took to the water himself; and soon he showed a hunger to rival any of them.
I've always loved winning. Even from way back when I was little.Lawrence Brittain, Olympic athlete
Before long, he'd rowed his way into the South African junior team and his Olympic Games dream began to take shape in his mind - a vision of him standing on the podium. But often life and misfortune have a way of disrupting one's dreams, as Lawrence was soon to find out.
While training for the 2014 World Championships, Lawrence began to feel unusually tired as if his body was unable to cope. Before long, his performance on the water started to drop despite his efforts to train harder, and he was removed from the team.
Each chemo session was worse than the one before. You feel your body does not like you at all, it just feels so broken. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.Lawrence Brittain, Olympic athlete
It was touch-and-go whether Lawrence would win this battle, let alone row again, but he was determined to try. He leaned into his treatment with all the guts and determination that he would regularly summon up for his rowing, with his family by his side all the way.
When he finally emerged on the other side of chemo, terribly weak and out of shape, Lawrence had to wait for months before getting the green light from the doctors to be able to train again. At first, he was so overweight he couldn't even get into the boat let alone row, but slowly he regained his fitness. His hair began to grow back. He began to see progress. Then one day...
I'll never forget: the doctor coming in and looking at the results, and then he just looked at me, and he said; “Go out there and win us some medals".Lawrence Brittain, Olympic athlete
With a renewed hope, Lawrence worked harder than ever as the Olympic Games Rio 2016 fast approached, and despite all the odds, he made the cut. Then, after an almighty week-long effort in Rio, Lawrence finally realised his lifelong dream and stood on that podium, head held high, with a silver medal hanging defiantly from his neck.
U23 World Rowing Championships 2010, GOLD (Final BM2 Class)
1 x Olympian - Rowing (2016)
Rio 2016, SILVER (Rowing Coxless Pair)
World Cup 2017, 4th (FA Final M4 Class)
2 x World Championships Finalist 2017, 2019