Humans of Africa: Andre, Angola and the Olympics

Angola

flag of angola

” My grandfather rowed in Angola in the 1940s. When I was 16 I left Angola to study in the United States. I started rowing there, and in 2007 I was invited to compete at the All-Africa Games – which I did. That was when I became the first to represent my country in rowing. “

humans of africa andre matias olympian angola rowing

Andre Matias, Human of Africa

“I’m not shy to say that I am a big nationalist. I’m a 4th generation Angolan and though I descend from Portuguese settlers (not hard to tell from the photos), I am very proud to be Angolan. It is an integral part of who I am. Along the years my greatest source of pride in being Angolan has been in representing my country, and seeing my country represented by others in the sporting world. The Olympics was the pinnacle of this experience, where only 26 of us had qualified to compete on the world’s biggest stage, and there was this incredible sense of achievement and pride that we wanted to share with all of our country men and women.”

“My grandfather rowed in Angola in the 1940s. When I was 16 I left Angola to study in the United States. I started rowing there, and in 2007 I was invited to compete at the All-Africa Games – which I did. That was when I became the first to represent my country in rowing. Along the years I grew much stronger and competed at multiple world championships. Rowing has become a part of my life ever since. With my international presence, there was also an incentive to form the rowing federation and develop the sport in Angola. Since 2007 many other Angolans have learned to row, and some have even competed internationally!”

“Things I love about Angola… Our beautiful landscapes: from the more tropical north to the desert we share with Namibia to the South, a long and beautiful Atlantic Coastline spanning, and so many different landscapes spanning north to south and east to west! It’s a beautiful country to explore, and I never get tired of thinking about all the different places I have yet to visit. Because of our long civil war which ended in 2002, I didn’t get to travel inside the country and I’m looking forward to doing that. Because I study abroad, I only go home every so often so what connects me to my country is the amazing music we produce.”

 

The journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics

“In 2009 and 2010, I competed at 2 Under-23 World Championships, and showed significant improvement. In 2010 I finished 4th at the African Championships. This is when I decided to take a year off from my university and try to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately I had to have hip surgery shortly before the qualifier, so that dream rapidly vanished. I continued training and in 2013 I joined another Angolan rower, Jean-Luc, who I had convinced to pick up rowing a few years back. I had also known Jean-Luc since we were 5 – we grew-up together and studied at the same school in Angola.”

“Starting in 2013 we trained together and we raced at the African championships, in the lightweight double. We finished 3rd, earning Bronze – the first medal in rowing for Angola! This was the pivotal moment. We knew that we had 2 years to train and secure the only qualifying spot for African nations for the next Olympics. We decided to leave everything behind and pursue the Olympic dream, even though it was a very risky gamble. We competed at multiple World Cups, World Championships, and earned many medals both at the African and International level.”

“In 2015 we qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics, and it was the first time our country had ever qualified in the sport of rowing. This was a surprise to many, and was done against all odds. The greatest highlight was having our country amongst the only 20 countries qualified and competing in the lightweight double event at the Olympic Games. It was a great honor for us, and an incredible moment!”

humans of africa andre matias olympian rio olympics 2016 angola rowing

“This really changed my life in many ways. It was my wildest dream and something that seemed impossible for so long. But along the way, it taught me to work hard for what I believed in. It taught me to do what I have to do, even when I don’t want to. Looking back, it was the hardest thing I’ve done. Pushing your body to the limits every day is tough not just physically, but also psychologically. To improve, you have to tolerate pain every single day, to keep going when your muscles are exhausted, your heart rate is close to max, and you don’t have enough oxygen coming in your lungs.”

“The biggest challenges were pushing your body and mind beyond the limits two, three times a day, 7 days a week, over the period of years. Another challenge was losing despite doing this. I always say this, but over the years we lost more races than we won. We lost time and time again, but we never lost sight of what we were trying to achieve, and we were never defeated despite our losses. I’m glad we stuck around and that we were able to achieve our dream. I think this has changed me because I have this sense of fulfillment that I’ll carry for the rest of my life, while at the same time knowing what it took to get there, and how much I have learned.”

“Right now I’m taking some time off to recover from the last couple of years. I’ve just come off two Olympic cycles, back to back, and want to focus on my studies cross-train over the next few months. I’m still rowing, and am planning on racing at the US national championships — hopefully biting some metal this summer! I’m also in my first year of law school and enjoying my studies. The study and practice of law is particularly meaningful to me. However, I’m also applying the same psychology that led me to succeed in the rowing world, and I am determined to do well this first year of graduate school. If I fail to do well, I will not be continuing my legal studies, so I’m treating this very much like my Olympic qualifier.”

humans of africa andre matias olympian rio olympics rowing angola

By | 2016-11-07T22:29:24+00:00 November 8th, 2016|Humans of Africa|Comments Off on Humans of Africa: Andre, Angola and the Olympics

About the Author:

Nomad is a Sista Tweet blogger, co-creator, External Relations Manager and Strategic Thinker.
She’s a lover of international cultures and foods and when she’s not on Sista Tweet or growing her career at her day job, she’s busy planning her next trip around the world.

Shares
ENJOYING YOUR VISIT? GET MORE!
Enter your e-mail to receive tips on setting up the perfect African pantry & celebrating life's moments with 2 FREE e-books!
Your privacy is important to us: we do not share your information.
Not So Fast...
Sign up today and get exclusive access to our member content.
Be the first to know: Get our latest & greatest right in your inbox.
     
Members Only.
All we need is your e-mail address to hook you up starting now.
Join Free
What's on your mind?
We Care.
Your privacy is important to us: we do not share your information.
   
THE BEST AFRICAN PANTRY EVER!
PGlmcmFtZSB3aWR0aD0iNDgwIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjMwMCIgc3JjPSJodHRwczovL3d3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbS9lbWJlZC9oekVMSHNyYkxKRSIgZnJhbWVib3JkZXI9IjAiIGFsbG93ZnVsbHNjcmVlbj48L2lmcmFtZT4=
All rights reserved © Sista Tweet, 2016
A FREE GIFT IS WAITING FOR YOU...
Your privacy is important to us: we do not share your information.
Enter your e-mail below to receive your free gift & exclusive member updates.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT.
Sign up today to receive our latest & greatest right in your inbox!
Your privacy is important to us: we do not share your Information.
Because it's you, we'll also send you 2 FREE e-books that will change your life!
You're on the list!
     
If you can’t find our e-mail, it might be in your spam mail.
Please add us to your safe sender’s list so you don’t miss out on any of the great stuff we have in store!
Once you’ve done that, you can relax and look forward for some FREE great content exclusive to our members.
If you have any trouble, just send us an e-mail at info@sistatweet.com or via our contact page and we’ll be happy to sort things out for you.
You can unsubscribe anytime by using the link at the bottom of any email from us.
Welcome to the Sista Tweet family & Enjoy your visit!
Please check out your inbox to confirm your e-mail.
What's on your mind?
We Care.
Your privacy is important to us: we do not share your information.
   
JOIN THE MOVEMENT.
Your privacy is important to us: we do not share your Information.
Sign up today to receive our latest & greatest right in your inbox!
Because it's you, we'll also send you 2 FREE e-books that will change your life!
JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
We are respectful of your inbox space & won’t crowd it with tons of e-mails.
  • Learn the essentials of stocking an African pantry
  • Get tips to turn any occasion into a celebration
  • Receive our member exclusive weekly updates
  • Indulge in some members-only special content
PGlmcmFtZSB3aWR0aD0iMTAwJSIgaGVpZ2h0PSIxMDAlIiBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnlvdXR1YmUuY29tL2VtYmVkL2h6RUxIc3JiTEpFIiBmcmFtZWJvcmRlcj0iMCIgYWxsb3dmdWxsc2NyZWVuPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==
* Your privacy is important to us: we do not share your information.
We will send you an update with our latest masterpiece once a week and you will occasionally receive a members-only special gift!
Receive 2 FREE e-books & indulge in some exclusive member privileges!
Enter your email address to receive your FREE e-books & join an amazing community!
YES, we do all the work and you get to enjoy it all FREE!
Subscribe.
You’ve got nothing to lose and FREE members content to enjoy!
Your privacy is important to us; we do not share your information. 2016 (C) All rights reserved.
Leaving us Already?
We're sad to see you go but it doesn't have to end there. Let's keep in touch.
Like our facebook page and join the conversation.
   
PGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmZhY2Vib29rLmNvbS9wbHVnaW5zL3BhZ2UucGhwP2hyZWY9aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuZmFjZWJvb2suY29tJTJGU2lzdGFUd2VldCUyRiZ0YWJzJndpZHRoPTM0MCZoZWlnaHQ9MjE0JnNtYWxsX2hlYWRlcj1mYWxzZSZhZGFwdF9jb250YWluZXJfd2lkdGg9dHJ1ZSZoaWRlX2NvdmVyPWZhbHNlJnNob3dfZmFjZXBpbGU9dHJ1ZSZhcHBJZCIgd2lkdGg9IjM0MCIgaGVpZ2h0PSIyMTQiIHN0eWxlPSJib3JkZXI6bm9uZTtvdmVyZmxvdzpoaWRkZW4iIHNjcm9sbGluZz0ibm8iIGZyYW1lYm9yZGVyPSIwIiBhbGxvd1RyYW5zcGFyZW5jeT0idHJ1ZSI+PC9pZnJhbWU+