World Rowing and Filippi Boats are on their way to pick the 2017 Filippi Spirit Award winner with the announcement of the top five finalists
Featuring three Africans, a Serbian and one from Great Britain, the finalists were narrowed down from more than 20 applicants from 12 nations, including Olympic rowers, national team members and PhD students who had all demonstrated the core values of rowing.
The 2017 Filippi Spirit Award finalists are (in alphabetical order):
Rain de Jager (South Africa)
Vladimir Gluhovic (Serbia)
Seun Olusanya (Great Britain)
Mzwandile Sotsaka (South Africa)
Micheen Thornycroft (Zimbabwe)
Now in its fifth year the Filippi Spirit Award is the only international award that recognises university rowers. It is open to university rowers worldwide and honours those who have demonstrated the core values of rowing in his/her social, academic and sporting life. It shows that the student, through these values, has enabled or inspired success in other people's lives.
The next stage is to decide the winner. A select panel of judges which includes FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland, an Olympic Champion and former university rower, New Zealander Mahe Drysdale who is an Olympic Champion and began rowing at university, Lenka Dienstbach-Wech a German Olympic and World Champion rower and medical doctor, and CEO of Filippi Lido S.R.L. David Filippi.
Rain de Jager attends the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and is studying occupational therapy and chemistry. As captain of the Wits University Boat Club, de Jager has inspired many to start rowing through ensuring that students could train at no cost. She has excelled in her studies, works as a coach and continues to row.
At the University of Belgrade, Vladimir Gluhovic is a medical student with a long list of academic awards. He joined the Belgrade University Rowing Club and brought with him persistence and dedication to training as well as the ability to inspire others with his positive spirit. Gluhovic has initiated promotional events for rowing which helped grow the rowing club.
Seun Olusanya studies at the University of Exeter in Great Britain. A top medical student, Olusanya volunteers at the local hospital. She is the former women's rowing captain of the Exeter University Boat Club and current president. She has organised a club fundraiser following Haiti's hurricane in 2016 and is training for the British national rowing team.
From South Africa, Mzwandile Sotsaka studies mathematics at the University of Johannesburg. Coming from an impoverished background, Sotsaka worked as a rowing coach to pay his living expenses while studying. He is training to make the South African national team while following his academic goals. Sotsaka is the men's captain for the University of Johannesburg rowing team and uses a high level of discipline to achieve his demanding schedule.
Two-time Olympic rower for Zimbabwe, Micheen Thornycroft is currently studying at Rhodes University in South Africa. She hopes to graduate in 2019 with a masters degree in human kinetics and ergonomics. At the Rhodes University Rowing Club, Thornycroft coaches, mentors and inspires younger women. She has been involved in a number outreach projects including the RowZambezi project.
The winner's university rowing club will receive a custom-built, top-of-the-range Filippi eight racing shell. The boat recognises the winner's involvement in the club and helps the club to develop more young rowers in the future.