The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN rowers, identical twins Rory and Patrick Plunket are ecstatic after being accepted at the prestigious Harvard University in the United States of America.
The two 19-year-olds finished their high school at South Africa’s Hilton College in Durban and are heading to one of the best universities in the world in August. Hilton College last Wednesday congratulated the Zimbabwean boys for being accepted into Harvard.
“Congratulations to the Plunket brothers for being accepted into Harvard University. Hats off too to all the Hilton staff and boys that have helped them on their journey, especially Ernie Steenkamp. This is the third time in the last four years that they have had a matriculant start at Harvard,’’ read a statement from Hilton College.
The two are in the United Kingdom where they have been doing part-time work as they wait to hear from Harvard on when they are starting their studies since the world is still grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of the year, they managed to have a feel of the Harvard campus when the university invited them for a tour, with the confirmation that they had been accepted coming through last Tuesday. The lads are excited by the prospects that Harvard present to them and credited their Hilton College rowing coach Ernie Steenkamp for playing a big part in their decision.
“We are pleased with all the opportunities that Harvard presents us. We didn’t do this on our own, we have had a lot of support from many people in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Our rowing coach in South Africa, Ernie Steenkamp has been our biggest support, great mentor, leader and role model. He was fundamental in our decision. Our parents in Zimbabwe have been supportive as well,’’ Patrick said.
Harvard rowing coach Patrick Lapage who the twins met at the 2019 Junior World Championships in Tokyo, Japan encouraged them to apply. Their former teacher at St John’s College, Neal Hovelmeier, now at Harvard, is another one who advised the brothers to seek for places at one of the best higher learning institutions in the world.
Besides Harvard, the twins had plans to enrol at one of the universities in the UK. They had actually secured places but with Harvard accepting them, they have opted to go to the US. Patrick and Rory are not going on a scholarship to Harvard but have applied for financial aid.
“We were thinking of going to one of the England universities, our first choice was Durham, we had applied and had already been accepted to start in September. We visited Harvard in February, to have a look around campus, flew to the UK, we were supposed to start rowing at a club called Tideway scullers.”
Patrick is considering majoring in Economics while Patrick wants to pursue a degree in Political Science and Government.
Born 11 March 2001, Rory and Patrick started rowing when they moved to Hilton College in 2015. The year before, they had represented Zimbabwe in rugby at the Under-13 Craven Week in South Africa. In 2018 and 2019 they took part in the World Rowing Junior Championships. Their biggest achievement was when they finished sixth last year. In 2019, the Plunket brothers won the Team of the Year at the Annual National Sports Awards.
Rory is eager to explore what Harvard has to offer, with the lad keen to do some community work in Africa during his time in the US.
“We want take advantage of everything there, I would love to get back home and help out. We want to get the best education we can,’’ Rory said.
Qualifying for the Summer Olympics is something that the duo plans to achieve in future, with their target being the 2024 edition to be held in Paris. Some of the distinguished Harvard former students include former US president Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, billionaire Bill Gates, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and actor Matthew Damon. – @Mdawini_29