By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
What does it take to win at the Olympic Games? How many years of hard work and dedication does it take to prepare for such a feat? How many disappointments do you have to endure on this journey?
Danielle Brittain has walked this journey over and over again. Two of her sons have rowed at top levels. And she is currently in Toyko as she is one of the team doctor’s for the South African Olympic team.
Danielle has had her own battle with cancer and then had to watch her son, Lawrence Brittain, battle Hodgkin lymphoma during his Olympic training, to overcome it and go on to win the silver in 2016, after his recovery in this high-performance sport. Lawrence is rowing in the Olympics in the men’s heavyweight four this year.
The Olympic wins for the South African teams at the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics were iconic moments for South Africa, and Danielle’s descriptions of what the wins meant for the individuals in the teams, their families, the coaching staff and ordinary South Africans demonstrates the power of sport to unite the country.
This is a warrior’s story: a rowing story, a family story, a cancer survival story, a South African story – and the story of a mother watching it all unfold.
Danielle Brittain is the team doctor for the South African rowing team. She has been involved in rowing since 1980 and has followed the sport closely from that time, as her husband and four sons have all rowed for South Africa. Brittain became the team doctor in 2011 and works full time with the national team. Brittain qualified from Wits University in 1989 and worked in Rheumatology and Endocrinology at Baragwanath Hospital before becoming a Palliative Consultant. She has a Masters in Palliative Medicine from the University of Cape Town. She is married to David Brittain and currently lives in Pretoria, South Africa.