Ursula Grobler: A girl in a boat with a dream

2016 Olympic rowing finalist Ursula Grobler has a fascinating story to tell, and we’re here to help her do it.

CN&CO’s association with rowing in South Africa goes back to the early 2000s, when a few of the team members worked with Donovan Cech and Ramon di Clemente, who came home with bronze from the 2004 Athens Olympics. In 2012 we were involved as Etana, when the “oarsome foursome” bagged gold in the London Olympics.

“Our relationship with Rowing South Africa is still very much in place, and we handle a number of marketing and communication functions for the national squad,” says Carel. “We played a big role in hooking the rowers up with RMB Corporate and Investment Banking for the recent Thinking. Pulling. Together. TV ad.”

Among other things, we also handle social networking, as well as PR, corporate and school bookings for the entire team SA rowing squad.

Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain, who took silver in the men’s pairs in Rio 2016, have been touring South Africa since their return from the games, sharing their stories of near-misses and victory as motivational lessons for a wide variety of audiences.

But not all our rowers came back with medals. In fact, even though South Africa qualified for five rowing finals at the Rio games, we only had one podium finish. But you don’t have to have stood on the podium to have a good story to tell.

Ursula Grobler was one of our finalists who didn’t get a medal. The lightweight women’s world record holder on the Concept 2 rowing machine for the official 2000m missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012, which was only one of the setbacks she experienced in her road to Rio.

Ursula has preserved through failures and fairy tales, and has put together a motivational talk about the lessons learnt from Rio. The talk is quite simply titled, “What I’m figuring out after a disappointing final race at the Rio Olympic Games.”

Why you should listen

Ursula started rowing at the age of 26 and was an Olympic-calibre, lightweight rower by 30. She achieved a world record on the rowing machine after starting the sport only three years earlier. Her quick rise to success was followed by many failures and hardships, such as missing selection for London Olympics, uprooting her home by changing countries and then not achieving the glory of gold at the Rio Olympics.

“You often hear that rowers know about pain and patience,” she says. “There are more failures than successes. But hope and a beginner’s mindset help me to push through. In a way these hard moments have made me who I am, and how I choose to live with these disappointments is an inspirational tale told by a girl, in a boat, with a dream.”

If you have any particular requests, or would like more information, contact Blake Dyason (blake@cnandco.com).