SAMSA Canoeists take silver

Dusi finish

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Canoeists have received silver medals for finishing 15th at the Dusi Marathon in Durban.

Mhlonishwa Hlongwane and Nqobile Makhanya, part of the SAMSA Change Life Academy entrants, made it in 2:57 minutes on Saturday. They were in the first batch where Sbonelo “Eric” Zondi, also a Change a Life entrant shared the winning prize with Andy Birkett.

SAMSA Change a Life team members

The rest of the SAMSA Change a Life team members, Patrick Canham and Mmeli Ndimande got in at 221 (3:44 minutes).

Sifundo Gumede and Mhlonishwa Gcwensa came in at 190 with a time of 4:13 minutes.

Spamandla Shozi and Nduduzo Shozi came in at 342 (4:33 minutes). The group all comes from the Inanda area and this was their first Dusi race they took part in.

The SAMSA Change a Life Program, which started with 10 canoeists, today boasts 21 committed canoeists between the ages of 15 and 22 as well as a group of about 12 Guppies (the 8-12 year olds) who are showing promise of becoming well-trained canoeists in the near future. Eight qualified for the Dusi.

SAMSA Chief Operating Officer Sobantu Tilayi said: “These results are phenomenal. After only four months of training, these youngsters have achieved resounding success.

“It’s not important where they fall on the pecking order. That they finished the race, that they survived it, intact, that they competed with up to 50 international canoeists, that they competed with 1 800 other professionals, is remarkable.

“Who would have believed that these youth will finish? At SAMSA, we wanted them to believe in themselves. We wanted them to understand that they would be able to have access to water sport”.

Tilayi said it was an epic moment when each of the teams completed the race.

Following the race this weekend, SAMSA will continue with the Change a Life programme under the leadership of seven times Dusi winner Martin Dreyer.

Dreyer was equally pleased and said with his Change a Life team in Nagle Dam, who have been training for years, the youngsters at Inanda Dam shocked him.

“They had to attend school, do their chores at home, and walk many kilometres to the dam. But they were committed.

“The SAMSA programme was grassroots. People who never sat in a canoe before or held an oar battled against the odds to have a 100 percent success.”

Dreyer’s next eye is on the guppies to train them for the SA School Championships in April in Pretoria. –