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

27 June 2021 - 00:00 By Khaya Sithole

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. ..

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