The Old Diocesan Issue5 Mar2020 - Page 73



TEXT JEREMY RYALL JONO BIRD PHOTOGRAPH GETTY IMAGES
SPORT
senior Proteas’ T20 series against
England. Meanwhile, Nono Pongolo
(2007S) has appeared regularly this
season for the Imperial Lions, in
both forms of the game.
In rugby, the Stormers under new
head coach John Dobson (1985K),
conceded no points in the first two
games of the season – a first for the
franchise. As we went to print, they
had beaten the Hurricanes, Bulls and
Lions (just) to top the SA conference.
Dillyn Leyds (2010S), who has started
the season at fullback, came up
against fellow School House alum
Johnny Kôtze (2011S), playing at
centre, in the Bulls encounter.
On to Japan, where the 2020
Olympics are set to kick off in Tokyo
on 24 July. Hockey hopefuls Dayaan
(2017W) and Mustapha Cassiem
(Matric), Alex Stewart (2013O) and
Ryan Julius (2013K) were all called
up to the Olympic training squad in
February. In November, Dayaan and
Mustapha played in an indoor series
against Switzerland, and in February
in an outdoor series against the US.
Dayaan, Alex and Ryan were due to
compete against Germany ahead of
the announcement of the Olympic
squad. See more over the page.
We have high hopes for swimmer
Michael Houlie (2018B), who was
recognised as Newcomer of the Year
at the South African Sports Awards
in November: he is in training at the
University of Tennessee ahead of his
Olympic trials. He can take inspiration
from an earlier Olympian OD, Karl
Thaning (1994K) – see right.
On the water, Stuart Bristow
(2014K) had a great 2019, graduating
to the British Canoe Sprint Team
and competing at several World
Championship events. He, too, will
be aiming to make the trip to Japan.
Another Team GB hopeful is rower
James Johnston (2012G), who made
his senior debut at the 2017 World
Cup regatta in Lucerne.
If you know of any other Olympian
OD hopefuls, please do let us know.
At the Athens 2004 warm-up pool with the
medley relay team, from left: Terence Parkin,
Karl, Gerhard Zandberg and Eugene Botes.
OLYMPICS PAST
Karl Thaning (1994K) represented South Africa in the pool at the 2004
Olympics in Athens, competing in the 4x100m medley relay. He was also,
tantalisingly, the reserve swimmer for the 4x100m freestyle team, which
went on to win gold and break the world record. As far as we know, no
OD has won an Olympic medal; Karl might have broken a record!
“We had a swim-off to decide the final spots for that relay, and
I narrowly lost out,” he remembers. “We had remarkable depth in
the team that year, with many quick freestylers. It was an incredible
moment in South African sporting history when Ryk Neethling, Roland
Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend stunned the US team.
“At the time of the Games in Athens, I was inexperienced at the top
level. I’d been playing waterpolo for the national side; swimming relays
was an adjustment. I found my feet later, at various tournaments, but
I was not blind to the size of the Olympics and how important it is. It’s
an overwhelming experience – and very humbling, in a beautiful way.
“In terms of my career highlights, I captained the aquatics team at the
Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, which was a real honour.
In the pool, I beat Alex Popov (my childhood hero) at a tournament in
Monte Carlo – but in fairness, he may have had an off-day that day!”
Swimming is clearly in Karl’s blood: his father Otto, a heart surgeon,
holds the world record as the oldest man to have swum the English
Channel, while his mother Ann, a retired physiotherapist, set three
100m backstroke world records in 1966. She was unable to compete
at the Olympics due to South Africa being excluded at the time.
Having switched his focus from swimming to the film industry, Karl
now directs corporate and educational videos for clients. As an actor,
he has starred in Dredd, Black Sails, Outlander, The Dark Tower, and
Momentum, and more recently in The Girl From St Agnes for Showmax.
THE OLD DIOCESAN | 71





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