Following last week’s post, we are sharing the stories of three more candidates to the upcoming Parmigiani Spirit Award linked to the FISA organization. 

Discover three more awe-inspiring stories of willpower and dedication, kindness and devotion that lead to these rowers’ success. 

British rower for Imperial College School of Medicine Boat Club

- Andrew Smith, second rower from the left -

About to enter his final year of his medical degree, Andrew Smith has been a cornerstone of the university’s rowing club. He has trained a minimum of eight sessions per week during the season while studying for his medical degree.

To help students struggling to strike a balance between training and studying, Smith pioneered a small tutorial scheme sharing revision notes, giving tutorials and encouraging students that were finding the demands of their degree overwhelming. It would later become known as the Education Support Scheme, on which Smith continued to improve after being elected club president. 

In his fifth year of medical exams, Smith achieved a first class degree in pharmacology and a ‘merit’ and ‘distinction.’ Through his degree Smith developed an interest in emergency medicine and does two 12-hour shifts each month with the London Ambulance Service.

Smith secured a 6-week elective placement in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the world’s busiest trauma unit and is planning to establish a student Trauma Medicine Society to enable him to share his knowledge with other like-minded students.

"I was completely overwhelmed! I was already honoured that the Captains of my club wanted to put me forwards in the first place, but after reading the other shortlisted biographies, I also felt incredibly privileged to be considered alongside such talented and successful candidates from all over the world."

South African rower for the University of Johannesburg Boat Club

- Athenkosi Hlenkani first rower from the right -

Athenkosi Hlenkani arrived in Johannesburg from the small community of Nemato. He was raised by a single mother of eight children in a disadvantaged neighbourhood, but he did not let this stop him from attending the University of Johannesburg and becoming one of the best rowers on the team. He drew his inspiration from his family and community, making it his life goal to show people who shared similar childhood circumstances that it is possible to overcome hardships.

Over the past four years his involvement in the University of Johannesburg Boat Club has grown and now, as an athlete, coach and committee member and captain, Hlenkani dedicates his time and energy to helping the club succeed and helping to promote the sport of rowing.

At university, Hlenkani was selected as a Residence Academic adviser (tutor) for first year students from 2010 to 2011. Hlenkani was also one of the twenty youth leaders from Africa elected through the United Nations Office of Sport and Development to attend the Youth Leadership Camp in Qatar in 2012.

“Academically I look forward to completing my undergrad at the end of this year and pursuing my postgrad next year. I am planning and doing my teaching certificate so that I may continue to be involved in coaching and the development of rowing in South Africa. Sporting wise I want to get faster and build on the results achieved this season.”

ZHISONG HU (03.09.1990)
Chinese rower for the Fourth Military Medical University Boat Club

- Athenkosi Hlenkani’s crew from above -

Zhisong Hu joined the Fourth Military Medical University Boat Club just three years ago, but in those three years he has undergone an incredible personal transformation that has inspired his teammates and greatly impacted the sport of rowing at his university.

After making both the physical and technical improvements to become one of the best rowers at the club, Hu immediately turned his focus to helping his teammates. Inspired by his determination, Hu’s teammates were quick to call him their leader and ‘the perfect teammate.’

In an effort to grow the rowing program Hu dedicates his free time to recruiting, coaching and inspiring novice rowers to love the sport as he does. 

Off the water Hu studies medicine and has been awarded the Excellent Student of the University Award three years in row. When he is not studying he does supplementary scientific research to further his scientific pursuits. Hu seeks balance in his life, following the idea that sport makes his life active, studying makes his life meaningful and music makes his life peaceful. 

“After getting back to school, I'll receive one year's internship in the hospital. I look forward to increasing my knowledge and skills, preparing me for my dream of being a doctor. The rowing makes me strong and teaches me to work in a team. The internship in hospital will show me how to save lives and will make my dream come true.”

Add new comment