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Interview with Sportsman of the Year 2019 Rodney Govinden |06 February 2020

Interview with Sportsman of the Year 2019 Rodney Govinden

Sportsman of the Year 2019 Rodney Govinden

‘The next step for me is to pass on the knowledge and skills to younger athletes’


In 2019, Laser specialist Rodney Govinden became the first Seychellois athlete to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, after clinching the Laser gold medal at the 2019 African Championship RSX and Laser.

Other than the Olympic ticket, the continental medal made him the country’s highest decorated athlete for 2019, earning him the best male athlete award, or the Sportsman of the Year title as is more commonly known.

At the competition held in Algiers, Algeria last October, Govinden registered three first places, five second places, one third place, one 10th place and one 11th position. After his two worst finishes – 10th and 11th places – were discarded, he finished with a nett score of 22 points, enough to bring home the gold medal and book his trip to Tokyo.

The XXXII Olympic Summer Games which will take place between July 24 and August 9 will be Govinden’s second involvement at the Games, after competing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 where he finished 45th overall.

In the region, Govinden also took part in the 10th Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG) held in Mauritius in July where he won a silver medal, after being pushed into the runner-up spot by seasoned teammate Allan Julie who took the gold.

Govinden received his award from President Danny Faure last Friday, during the traditional Sports Awards crowning ceremony, held at the NSC Multi-purpose Hall at Roche Caïman.

Already in full preparation of his training plan for Tokyo, Govinden, the chief fisheries technician at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), willingly agreed to squeeze in Sports NATION into his busy schedule for a few questions.


Sports NATION: Were you expecting to win the Sportsman of the Year title?


Rodney Govinden: Based on my performance during the year 2019, especially at the African Championship, I knew that I was in a good position. Also when comparing the achievements of other athletes, I had a feeling that I will do well. But instead of thinking about it, I preferred to wait for the final result.


Sports NATION: Having won it before, is the feeling different, or the same?


Rodney Govinden: This one is more special, even though when I won the last time I also qualified for the Olympics. This time, I have qualified as the African Champion, winning the gold medal of the African Championship. So, it is definitely a lot more special for me.


Sports NATION: How would you describe the 2019 season?


Rodney Govinden: 2019 has been one of my best seasons ever and it crowned years of hard work, determination and sacrifices.

Early in the year, I had an intensive training camp as preparation for the African Championship, where I had the chance to compete at various European series. It also helped me during the IOIG. But the gold medal and the qualification have been the highlight. So, yes it has been a very good season.


Sports NATION: What are we expecting from you this year?


Rodney Govinden: For this year, my main focus is on my preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. I have taken six months sabbatical leave from work just for me to concentrate on my training.

I need to build up my training volume, so that I can peak at the right moment for a good performance.


Sports NATION: Is defending the Sportsman of the Year title a priority for you?


Rodney Govinden: We will see how the year goes, based on the different competitions available. Of course, it will all depend on the different levels of competition. But, I will give my best at all the competitions I get the chance to take part in, especially at the Olympics and on the continent where I have a title to defend.


Sports NATION: What are the main difficulties you encountered in 2019?


Rodney Govinden: One of the main issues was to get release from work. It was difficult to balance work and sports. I got only 10 days release and I had to take my annual leave to accommodate training and competitions. Despite the difficulties, I persevered and managed to sort myself out and give a good performance. For this year, I am more focused and that is why I have taken sabbatical leave to step up my preparations. In a way I see it as a sacrifice.


Sports NATION: Why did you choose sailing as a sport?


Rodney Govinden: When I started water sports I began with canoeing. Then there was that friend who was doing Optimist and he was always telling us how fun it was, so, along with my two brothers we were curious to find out more about it. That is when we switched to sailing and from then on it became a passion, rather than a sport.


Sports NATION: What do you want to achieve in sailing?


Rodney Govinden: Overall, I can say that I have achieved mostly everything I wanted, except for an IOIG gold medal. So, the next step for me is to pass on the knowledge and skills to younger athletes so that they can also achieve good results, especially at continental level.


Sports NATION: Other than your hard work and devotion, who do you attribute your success to?


Rodney Govinden: First and foremost, the Grace of God. I have been blessed with the strength and energy for all those years. Secondly, my family, especially my mother who has been there from the beginning, assisting us in any way she could. She tried to give us everything we asked for in relation to sailing, like books and watersports clothing.

I have also received a lot of support from the National Sports Council (NSC), the Seychelles Yachting Association (SYA), the government of Seychelles and various individuals who have been behind me, bringing their support and encouragement.

My girlfriend has also been a huge support for me and we have recently been blessed with a baby who motivates me even more.


Sports NATION: Other than being a good sailor, do you think you have the ability to be a good role model?


Rodney Govinden: Yes, definitely I can be a good role model, especially to those who are finding it hard to balance their sports with their work. I have been able to maintain my level in sailing, while moving up and progress in my career. So, they can take me as an example to motivate themselves. I can also advise them on how sports can help them to stay away from bad influences.


Sports NATION: On a funny note, it was said that when you were younger, you and your twin brother Roy used to swap boats whenever one of you was behind during race series. Being identical, it was difficult at that time to tell who was who. Is that true?


Rodney Govinden: No we did not swap boats. We looked so much alike at that time that some people could not tell us apart. Maybe they were a bit confused on who was who and they thought we changed boats. But those close to us could easily differentiate us. But, I do not remember us swapping boats.


Interview by Roland Duval





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