Retired South African Olympic swimmer Ryk Neethling has been selected as the latest Laureus Ambassador, the organization announced this week.
Laureus is an organization composed of programs designed to ‘harness the power of sport to promote social change’ around the world. Its endeavors such as the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Academy help provide financial and practical support to sporting programs all over the world, in addition to tackling social challenges in the process.
Joining other current and retired sportspeople in the Laureus Ambassadors collective, Neethling is recognized for his significant contributions to the sporting community, as well as having been a positive role model and icon of success during his career.
While representing South Africa, Neethling earned a gold medal as part of his nation’s 400m freestyle relay at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He also holds the South African National Records 200m/400m/800m/1500m freestyle events and was the first South African to participate in 4 consecutive Olympic Games.
“It’s a huge honour for me to be part of this family,” said Neethling. “Not every Olympic medalist gets asked to join this family and it’s an incredible opportunity for me to start giving back. My swimming career has given me so much already and Laureus has offered me an amazing platform to share what I have already learnt. This is not necessarily to create more Olympic champions, but to share the joy and enthusiasm that I have experienced through swimming.”
Putting his traits of goal-setting and determination at the forefront, Neethling said, “When I was young South Africa wasn’t even allowed to compete in the Olympics, but I had a dream to get there one day. Perseverance is the ultimate talent.”
Also announced this week is that the 2016 Laureus World Sports Awards will be held in Berlin, marking the first time the prestigious award ceremony will be held in Germany. The awards are aimed at celebrating the outstanding achievements of sports men and women around the world. This year signifies the 17th edition of the ceremony.