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Academy stars show fine form ahead of Dusi

Martin Dreyer's Change a Life Academy stars Banetse Nkhoesa (front) and Msawenkosi Mtolo will be a force to be reckoned with come the 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon from February 27-29. Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

With the 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon now just around the corner, paddlers who are part of the FNB Change a Life Academy will be fired up by some top results registered at the recent 50 Miler and Mfula to Inanda races.

Change a Life’s leading paddler Khumbulani Nzimande is teaming up with nine-time Dusi champion Andy Birkett in 2020 and the pair showed that they will be the K2 to beat with two good recent wins against talented fields.

“Andy and Khumbulani sit very nicely in the boat together,” said Martin Dreyer, the academy’s founder. “It’s fantastic to see someone of Andy’s amazing ability and pedigree taking on a raw super athlete in Khumbulani.”

Dreyer said regardless of the final Dusi result, the three months training together would be a life-changing experience for the youngster from the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

“Khumbulani is a work horse of note and will not take this opportunity lightly,” said Dreyer.

Fellow Change a Life stars Banetse Nkhoesa and Msawenkosi Mtolo finished third at the 50 Miler and Dreyer has high hopes for this pairing going into the Dusi.

Well-balanced

“They are such a well-balanced team, with an abundance of talent with regards to running and paddling,” said Dreyer. “Their personalities suit each other which is crucial when you spend so much time training together.”

Kime and Rubenstein bring pedigree to Dusi Challenge

The Dusi race organisation recently tweeted about its excitement at the field building to take on the 69th edition of the famous river race, saying there was an exciting mix between the experienced, old guard and young, hungry talent.

“There is a tangible excitement building up to the 69th edition of the Dusi. In both the men’s and ladies field, we have a mix of the old racing guard being pushed by the next generation of Dusi talent. It’s going to be a super exciting race!”

The top 15 of the recent 50 Miler was packed with FNB Change a Life paddlers.

“What is encouraging to see is that paddlers from the academy are sought-after Dusi partners and it’s exciting that some have been invited by good paddlers outside of the academy,” said Dreyer.

“Kwandokhule Mzolo is paddling with Jack Edmonds and they will be going for a podium in the Under 18 category, whilst Zonele Nzuza is paddling with Trenton Lamble and they will be looking for a top 10 finish.”

True ability

Of all his Change a Life crews, Dreyer has also singled out the young duo of Mvelo Ngidi and Thabani Msiya as strong contenders for a top 10, despite a tough weekend of racing recently.

“I think Mvelo and Thabani’s result from 50 Miler doesn’t reflect their true ability.

“They will be hoping to do well in the Under 23 category, but it being one of the most competitive age groups at the Dusi they will have to have a flawless race,” Dreyer added.

The Dusi will attract development teams from all over the country and the strong Soweto Canoeing and Recreation Club (SCARC) will also send through some strong paddlers that will be pushing for top-10 spots.

The 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from February 27 to 29, 2020. Entry details and more information can be found at www.dusi.co.za

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Coincidence, fate or just plain unlucky?

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