Happy Birthday, Ryk Neethling! | People Magazine

Happy Birthday, Ryk Neethling!

Ryk Neethling

South Africa’s golden boy from the 2004 Olympics turns 40 today! We throwback to his greatest Olympic achievement, when the ‘Awesome Foursome’ consisting of Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend won gold and set a world record of 3 minutes and 13.17 seconds in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Ryk Neethling

Roland Schoeman got the start of a lifetime, with a reaction time of 0.65sec from the gun to leaving the block. He opened a gap of a metre on the other competitors, hitting the turn just under world-record pace and a second in front.
Schoeman gave Lyndon Ferns a 1.64sec lead and the Ferns swam his 100m in a time of 48.13sec, just 0.04sec slower than Schoeman’s. Darian Townsend kept the under-49-seconds theme going with a time of 48.96 and then Ryk Neethling finished off with a 47.91 over 100m, securing gold for the team.

Ryk Neethling

Here are some more fun facts about Ryk Neethling:

  • He was the first South African athlete to compete in four successive Olympic games.
  • He competed at the Games in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.
  • He won four medals at the Commonwealth Games. A silver medal in the 1 500m freestyle at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games,a silver in the 100m freestyle and a gold as part of the SA 4×100m freestyle relay team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Ryk Neethling

  • Ryk has two sisters, Elsje and Jean-Marie.
  • His favourite holiday destination is Spain.
  • His favourite band is Just Jinjer. When he lived in the USA he spent a lot of time with the band when they were over there too.
  • Ryk had a cameo in local soapie7de Laan.
  • Ryk and his former swimming teammate Princess Charlene of Monaco are good friends – he even attended her wedding to Prince Albert in 2011.


Robert is a descendant of the stout Macpherson Clan out of the Scottish Highlands and can claim Robert the Bruce as a far-off cousin. He suffers from a severe form of Collectors’ Disease and sports an assortment of small valuable curious. In his spare time he works a full-time job, but his real prowess lies within his musical aptitude as a drummer. He is a semi-amateur of the instrument and although he claims beating a drumhead one of the more primal sensations man can experience, he feels it to be an unnatural exercise to pursue. If he could have his way, he’d have breakfast every meal of the day and is a fan of all things Roald Dahl.

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