Five rowers have been shortlisted for the 2017 Filippi Spirit Award, which aims to recognise university paddlers who have demonstrated the sport's core values in their social, academic and sporting life.
The finalists were decided by World Rowing and Filippi Boats, with the shortlist cut down from the initial 20 applicants from 12 nations.
South Africa’s Rain de Jager is among those in contention for the award, which is now in its fifth year.
De Jager currently studies occupational therapy and chemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she captains their boat club.
Her nomination comes after she was found to have inspired many to start rowing through ensuring that students could train at no cost, while she also coaches and continues to row.
Mzwandile Sotsaka is the second South African in the final five, with the maths student currently training to be part of the national team.
Sotsaka has come from an impoverished background, but worked as a rowing coach to pay his living expenses while studying.
He is the men’s captain for the University of Johannesburg rowing team, with his high level of discipline credited for allowing him to achieve his demanding schedule.
Serbia’s Vladimir Gluhovic has also been shortlisted, with the medical student receiving praise for his efforts at the Belgrade University Rowing Club.
Gluhovic’s persistence and dedication to training has been praised, while he was found to have helped grow the club by arranging several promotional events.
British medical student Seun Olusanya is also in contention for the award, having organised an Exeter University Boat Club fundraiser following Haiti’s hurricane in 2016.
She currently acts as President of the boat club, having previously been the women’s rowing captain for the University.
Olusanya is currently training to earn a place on the British rowing team, as well as continuing her studies.
The finalists are completed by Zimbabwe’s Micheen Thornycroft, who is currently studying at Rhodes University in South Africa.
The two-time Olympic rower currently coaches, mentors and inspires younger women at the university, as well as being involved in a variety of outreach initiatives, including the RowZambezi project.
She hopes to graduate in 2019 with a masters degree in human kinetics and ergonomics.
The winner will be selected by a panel of judges, which includes International Rowing Federation President Jean-Christophe Rolland, an Olympic champion for France and a former university rower.
New Zealand’s Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale, Germany’s Olympic and World Championship gold medallist Lenka Dienstbach-Wech, as well as Filippi Lido S.R.L. chief executive David Filippi, will also help decide.
The winner’s university rowing club will receive a custom-built, top-of-the-range Filippi eight racing shell.
The boat is aimed at recognising the winner’s involvement in the club, with the hope it will help the club to develop more young rowers in the future.
Filippi Lido S.R.L. are a rowing racing boat manufacturer based in Donoratico, Italy.
They have produced Olympic rowing boats since 1980, with the company renowned for design, top-quality materials and state-of-the-art technology.