Change a Life canoe sprint sensations
Pietermaritzburg – The 2015 South African Canoe Sprint Championships that took place over the Easter weekend, will forever be remembered as a magical two days for Martin Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy after Under-18 youngsters Thabani Msiya and Msawenkosi Mtolo claimed three gold medals and a silver at the National contest.
Up against some of the country’s top teenage canoe sprint talent, the Valley of a Thousand Hills youngsters headed to Roodeplaat Dam in Gauteng where the duo clinched the silver medal in the Under-18 boys’ K2 1000m contest before going on to claim gold in their age group’s 200m, 500m and 5000m K2 events.
“Msawenkosi and Thabani’s success was an unexpected, yet a very welcome surprise to all of us, including themselves!” beams former ‘Dusi Duke’ and Academy founder Dreyer.
“For them to have won SA Sprint Champs gold medals is just incredible and goes down in history as the first time black development paddlers have won a SA Champs title!”
The pair’s remarkable journey from sprinting wilderness to national gold medallists has been a surprisingly short one and began shortly before this year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon.
“Msawenkosi and Thabani live at [Bus Stop] Number 9, near Dusi Bridge, and with the Msundusi’s flow here not being predictable enough for them to train on properly, Change a Life rented a house at Inanda Dam where they stayed for two months. Under the guidance of top ten Dusi Change a Lifer Mhlonishwa Hlongwane, the two enjoyed a High Performance training camp valley style, if you like, and it was there that they jumped to a whole new level!”
Dreyer applauded the pair’s effort saying, “They don’t have it easy by any means. For example, just for this SA Sprints trip they had to hop onto a bus to get to Johannesburg and then catch a taxi to the dam and camp there for three days during the championships. They competed in a borrowed, year-old Dusi river boat while many others enjoyed the luxury of a lighter, stiff sprint boat.”
The recently concluded KZN river marathon season signalled a change in focus within the Change a Life setup with a greater emphasis placed on flat water racing and the next generation of stars.
On top of the programme’s great Dusi showing, Mtolo and Msiya’s recent sprint success further justifies the shift and signalled the reaching of a major milestone not only for the pair but the entire programme as well.
“Msawenkosi and Thabani’s sprint achievements are a big step in the right direction in our bid to diversify away from just being Dusi specialists. More importantly though, their gold medals have given the rest of our Change a Life youngsters the belief that they too can reach the top! Msawenkosi and Thabani’s achievements reaffirm that what we’re doing does in fact have a positive impact on the lives of others and it is great to be able to thank those who have believed in what we’re trying to achieve such as Computershare, USN and Hi-Tec with results as big as these!” he adds.
The annual SA Marathon Championships now draw near, representing Mtolo and Msiya’s next major challenge.
The pair will give the flat water nationals their all as they look to challenge for a spot in the National team that will head to Hungary in September for the 2015 Canoe Marathon World Championships.