Ivan Glasenberg, the almost-Olympian
Ivan Glasenberg missed out on becoming an Olympic athlete but since then he has presided over his chosen profession like a colossus, writes Khaya Sithole. The reclusive SA tycoon is about to step down as boss of Glencore and leaves a legacy of shrewd dealing across the world with executives and politicians, much of it revealing a steely business resolve and a reputation of someone for whom loyalties are negotiable
In just over four weeks athletes from across the globe will converge on Tokyo for the delayed Olympic Games. The creed of the Games — faster, higher, stronger — is one that resonates with a man who might have been an Olympian had SA not been barred because of apartheid. That denial of opportunity was a rare setback for Ivan Glasenberg. In 1984, the Wits educated chartered accountant was a race walker who was regarded as good enough to merit a place in the South African Olympic team for the Los Angeles Games.
But SA had been prohibited from competing at the spectacle because of the racist policies of the white-minority government at the time. Since the country’s previous appearance, in 1960 in Rome, it had been banned from the next seven games — in Tokyo, Mexico City, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles and Seoul. Glasenberg, however, found a possible way to overcome the embargo. ..