SPONSORED: Meet Lawrence Brittain, Bridgestone’s #ChaseYourDreamSA ambassador

Meet Lawrence Brittain, the South African rower who defied all the odds to take silver at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 after beating cancer less than two years before.

JOHANNESBURG - Lawrence Brittain was raised in a family of rowing fanatics, most with national colours to show for it.

Naturally, it wasn't long before he took to the water himself and soon he showed a hunger to rival any of them.

Before long, he'd rowed his way into the South African junior team and his Olympic Games dream began to take shape in his mind -- a vision of him standing on the podium.

But often life and misfortune have a way of disrupting one's dreams, as Lawrence was soon to find out. 
 
While training for the 2014 World Championships, Lawrence began to feel unusually tired as if the body was not coping.

Before long his performance on the water started to drop despite his efforts to train harder, and he was removed from the team.

He was disappointed. He knew something must be wrong with him, and after some medical investigation, he discovered he had Hodgkin’s disease – a form of lymph-node cancer. Immediately, he began six three-week cycles of chemotherapy. 
 
It was touch-and-go whether Lawrence would win this battle -- let alone row again -- but he was determined to try.

He leaned into his treatment with all the guts and determination that he would regularly summon up for his rowing, with his family by his side all the way

When he finally emerged on the other side of chemo, terribly weak and out of shape, Lawrence had to wait for months before getting the green light from the doctors to be able to train again.

At first, he was so overweight he couldn't even get into the boat, let alone row. But slowly he regained his fitness. His hair began to grow back. He began to see progress.

Then one day... 
 
With a renewed hope, Lawrence worked harder than ever as the Olympic Games Rio 2016 fast approached, and despite all the odds, he made the cut.

After an almighty week-long effort in Rio, Lawrence finally realised his lifelong dream and stood on that podium, head held high, with a silver medal hanging defiantly from his neck. 

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eNCA