Penny Heynes

Here’s something to brighten your morning. Durbanite Penny Heyns, the only woman to ever win 100m and 200m breaststroke Olympic gold, was back on the global stage yesterday, helping to take over New York’s Times Square.

Heyns was there as an ambassador of Save The Dream, a project which empowers youth worldwide through the values of sport. Penny is the only swimmer among the ambassadorial “galacticos ” who include Italian World Cup winner Alessandro del Piero.

After they leave the limelight, sports stars often fade into the background. Heyns, however, has put her fame to good use, travelling widely as a professional speaker. Her message is “live to be a blessing” – something she has used to inspire audiences from Sri Lanka to Canada; the US to Swaziland.

Great to see the first South African to win Olympic Gold in 44 years has her feet on the ground and still invests her energy wisely. Perhaps something she picked up during those scholarship years at the University of Nebraska. An alma mater Penny Heyns shares with that other humble and wise investor, Warren E Buffett.

I sent a few questions through to Penny’s business manager Zelda van Vuuren last night. Here’s her answers:

How long has Penny been involved with Save The Dream?

Since 2013. She first represented them in Nov 2013 in Geneva at the UN at a conference where she spoke on integrity in sport and FairPlay.

Why did she select this project over others?

She felt that it gave her a platform to contribute on the international level and share her personal views which are aligned with that of the ‘Save the Dream’ initiative regarding values in sport.

Is she the only swimmer among the Save the Dream Ambassadors (the others all seem to be soccer stars)?

She is the only swimmer yes. There are however ambassadors from other codes besides soccer.

How does this align with her Live to be a Blessing credo?

Penny believes that sport is a vehicle to educate and effect change and that through this initiative she can share a message of hope and positive values . Also ‘Save the Dream’ aims to give kids in less privileged circumstances access to sport and it’s opportunities through various projects.