Roland Schoeman

Swimmer

Roland is an Olympic and world champion swimmer. When he started swimming to impress a girl at the age of 16, one day becoming an Olympic champion and world record holder was the furthest thing from his mind. But, at the age of 26, the Pretoria-born swimming sensation has achieved both as well as picking up countless Commonwealth Games and World Championship titles along the way.

While he had already achieved much success in the build-up to the 2004 Olympic Games, it was in Athens that he truly made his mark on the world stage, not only swimming the first leg for the gold medal-winning South African 4x100m freestyle relay team, but also picking up individual silver in the 100m freestyle and bronze in the 50m freestyle, so becoming South Africa’s most decorated athlete at one Games. Since then, Schoeman has shattered the world record in the 50m butterfly, on his way to winning two world titles in Montreal last year, claimed three golds and a bronze at the recent Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Along with the relay and butterly records, he has also equalled the world mark in the short course 50m freestyle.

But unlike his former training partner, Ryk Neethling, Schoeman chose to remain in the United States after the 2004 Olympics and as a result has struggled to secure sponsorship. In 2005, both he and Neethling were offered lucrative contracts to change allegiance and swim for Qatar but their passion for South Africa saw both resisting the temptation to turn their backs on their country.

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