“I need your help!”
This is a cry that should sear through the hearts of South Africans, and it is from Mzansi’s only four-time Olympian, Roland Schoeman, in his quest to become the country’s first five-time contestant.
The highly rated South African swimmer, who turned down $5 million (R74.9 million at the current exchange rate) to represent Qatar, needs $50 000 to prepare for this year’s Rio Olympic Games.
Schoeman poured his heart out to fellow South Africans on the website gofundme.com/RolandtoRio.
He starts the post with a quote by Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
What follows is his story: “I am on a journey to become South Africa’s first five-time Olympian.
“To win gold for my country one more time.
“But with only four months until Rio 2016, I have not been able to secure the necessary financial support to cover my swimming expenses (coaches, facilities, travel and competitions).
“If I cannot raise the necessary funds myself, I am in danger of missing the Games. I need your help.
“Although based in America for training, I’ve never forgotten my roots.
“I was offered more than $5 million to swim for Qatar, but my love for South Africa has remained constant throughout my career – the green and gold is everything to me.
“Thank you to everyone who continues to support me, I hope I can make you all proud in Rio.”
By Friday, his campaign had raised just $790.
Yesterday, after landing in Durban for the SA National Aquatics Championships, Schoeman told City Press: “I’m feeling very excited about being on the verge of making history. Being here makes my dream look more like a reality now.”
He will fight to qualify for the Games in the 50m freestyle races on Friday and Saturday. The competition starts today at the Kings Park Aquatics Centre in Durban.
He said the support he had received since being on Robert Marawa’s 083Sports@6 show on Friday had been overwhelming.
“I have received a lot of messages on my Twitter account as well as my Facebook page,” he said.
“There have also been two further donations since then. Every little bit helps and I am quite grateful.”
People willing to help can do so via the GoFundMe website, or can contact Schoeman on Twitter @Rolandschoeman.
Roland Schoeman Achievements:
Olympic Games – gold, silver and bronze medallist
Commonwealth Games – gold, silver and bronze medallist
10-time world record holder
First man to swim under 21 seconds in 50m freestyle (world record: 20.98)
First man to swim under 23 seconds in the 50m butterfly (world record: 22.98)
Africa’s male sportsman of the year in 2004
. Swimming World Magazine’s African swimmer of the year in 2004, 2005 and 2006