Olympic star, Chad le Clos, who celebrated his 21st birthday in style on Friday, was given a unique ring to mark the occasion.
The R50 000 ring features the five interlocking rings of the Olympic Games.
It is made of 18-carat yellow and white gold and is set with 101 round diamonds – 100 for show and one for good luck.
Chad’s father, Bert, presented the ring to his son at a lunch at Ile Maurice restaurant, uMhlanga, on Friday, when owners Jean Mauvis and Christian Lenferna laid on a Mauritian feast to take the Le Clos family back to their roots.
Bert, who commissioned the ring, said his son had wanted an Olympic ring for some time but he decided to plan it for Chad’s 21st.
“That’s when you get something special. Chad’s reaction was unbelievable when he saw the ring. He was over the moon; it really surpassed his expectations,” he said on Sunday.
The swimmer is one of several high-profile sporting stars who have become celebrity ambassadors for the 2013 World Transplant Summer Games, taking place in Durban from July 28 to August 4. The line-up already includes former Springbok rugby captain Gary Teichmann and big-wave surfer Grant “Twiggy” Baker.
World Transplant Games athletes Cathy de Beer and Anil Balmakund, who have had kidney transplants, joined Chad on his special day. They have gold medals for squash from a previous world games and are hoping for podium positions again in July.
Inspirational messages from the sporting stars are to appear on television, in-flight entertainment channels and on the World Transplant Games website.
In a television interview filmed on Friday, Chad said he related to the athletes as they had to work so much harder to achieve their goals. He recalled that he had been a serious asthmatic at the age of eight and swimming was the only sport doctors allowed him to do.
Two thousand participants from 55 countries are expected to attend the transplant games – the biggest organ donor awareness event in the world – which will take place at venues across the city.
The ring was a “three-way” gift to the swimmer from his father, Chad’s cousin, Andrey Riethoven, a Durban diamond setter, and designer goldsmith David Bachelor.
“The project took about a month to complete. Although a lot of time and effort went into making this ring, I enjoyed every moment because of my relationship with Chad,” Riethoven said.
Chad’s birthday celebrations will continue after he makes a bid to qualify for the World Championships in Spain in July. The qualifications take place in Port Elizabeth next week.
He is holding a party in Johannesburg on April 26 and the following day his family – all 300 of them – will celebrate with him at The Czar in Durban, until 10.30pm, after which the party will be open to the public.