‘We are not a Mickey Mouse team’

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XA­BAN­ISA sports@city­press.co.za

When he re­ceived news of his and part­ner Shaun Keel­ing’s nom­i­na­tion for team of the year at the SA Sports Awards, rower Lawrence Brit­tain was al­ready sport­ing the be­gin­nings of a beer belly.

Af­ter claim­ing Olympic sil­ver by go­ing from fourth to sec­ond in the last 1 000m in the men’s cox­less pairs in Au­gust, the pair’s heroics have been lim­ited to eat­ing what­ever they want, and giv­ing mo­ti­va­tional talks at schools and cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions.

But for Brit­tain, who ad­mits he may have en­joyed his new­found free­dom from the tyranny of train­ing “a lit­tle too much”, the news is a pleas­ant re­minder of a sen­sa­tional year that was.

“It’s very cool [the nom­i­na­tion]. I’m very ex­cited. It’s been such an epic year. I think [fel­low nom­i­nees Mamelodi] Sun­downs will be favourites go­ing in, but we def­i­nitely stand a chance,” he says.

Mak­ing the year par­tic­u­larly epic for Brit­tain was his well-doc­u­mented re­cov­ery from cancer to claim sil­ver along­side Keel­ing, which has given him more than just the usual plat­i­tudes on his pub­lic-speak­ing tour.

“It’s such a crazy story – it still blows my mind when I think about it. It’s nice to be able to share a pow­er­ful story like that with oth­ers who suf­fer from cancer,” he says.

“Hope­fully, it gives them be­lief be­cause it’s changed me in a huge way. It was very tough be­ing sick and still train­ing, and it knocked me be­cause I didn’t know at the time.

“But af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed, be­ing able to com­pete and pro­duce a re­sult like that has given us be­lief in train­ing. Now we know we can box with any­one be­cause we’re not a Mickey Mouse team any more.”

Be­ing the small­est team on the nom­i­nees’ list (the other team in con­tention are the Bl­itzboks, who won bronze at the Olympics), Brit­tain was at pains to ex­plain that they still con­sti­tute a team.

“It’s very much a team sport be­cause you’re only as strong as the weak­est link in the team. In the pairs, it’s even more ex­ag­ger­ated be­cause each per­son has their side of the boat to deal with,” he says.

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