21 April 2017
In a recently published issue of Government Gazette in South Africa, it was announced that Sizwe Ndlovu, John Smith, Matthew Brittain and James Thompson, members of the crew that won the 2012 Olympic gold in the men’s lightweight four, will receive a national award from the country’s president, Jacob Zuma. The four oarsmen have been bestowed the award in the silver category, while the sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, who won an Olympic gold medal in the men’s 400 metres at the Rio Games, will receive an award in the gold category.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, John Smith and James Thompson raced in the men’s lightweight double sculls, after crew mate Brittain was forced to quit due to a back injury in October 2013. Their swap from sweep rowing to sculling was a success. Going into the 2016 Olympics, Smith and Thompson were the holders of the world best time in the boat class at 6:05:360, a time set at the 2014 World Championships. In the 2016 Olympic A final in the lightweight doubles, the South African duo claimed a fourth place after France, Ireland and Norway.