SCARC hoping to make waves at Dusi 2014


Words: Nick Tatham | Photo: Anthony Grote

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Pietermaritzburg – As canoeing gains increasing popularity amongst black athletes, the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club’s (SCARC) involvement in the Dusi Canoe Marathon has grown immensely and current Club Captain and coach Nkosi Mzolo is hugely positive about the chances for the club’s paddlers at the 2014 edition of the three-day epic starting at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg on 13 February.

SCARC hoping to make waves at Dusi 2014

Looking to the Dusi Canoe Marathon, the SCARC presence at this year’s race is going to be greater than before which is hugely encouraging for Mzolo with the number of paddlers increasing from 12 last year to 20 for 2014.

“It is really great that we will be sending 20 paddlers to the Dusi this year,” Mzolo said. “In the past it has been quite difficult getting paddlers qualified and race ready for such a big event but this year we are proud to have so many paddlers taking part in the race.

“This year a lot of the team have really been training hard and qualifying for the Dusi has been the main goal,” he added.

With the N3TC Drak Challenge behind them the focus has now shifted exclusively to the Dusi and Mzolo has singled out three of the SCARC paddlers that he is hoping will do well after solid performances at the recent Drak.

“The Drak Challenge was good for us. We had 17 paddlers in the race and all of them managed to finish, which was great. I know that it is very different to Dusi but I am still happy with how they did and am looking forward to Dusi after some good results.

“Siseko (Ntondini) had a really good Drak Challenge where he ended up in ninth place overall and second place in the U23 category. He is going to be paddling Dusi with Piers Cruickshanks this year which will be really good for him and there is so much that he is going to learn from Piers!” an excited Mzolo mentioned.

In the other combination that Mzolo has singled out, the experienced Loveday Zondi will be teaming up with another up-and-coming star from SCARC – Thando Ngamlana. Ngamlana finished in a respectable 43rd overall and 16th Under 23 at the Drak Challenge, finishing ahead of his more fancied partner Zondi.

“This combination is the one that excites me the most because these two are strong paddlers and we are really hoping that they can push for a top 10 at the Dusi this year.

“With Loveday using all of his Dusi experience I really hope that they can do well!” Mzolo added enthusiastically.

Zondi, a 10 Dusi veteran and the first ever black paddler to podium at the Dusi, understands the pressures of being a role model to the young, aspiring paddlers at SCARC and is really impressed by the improvements that have been made at the club and is looking forward to seeing how they go when the Dusi comes around.

“It’s not easy having a lot of youngsters looking up to you but I enjoy the role that I play at the club,” Zondi said. “It’s always good seeing these youngsters asking questions because a lot of them see the Dusi as just another race but it is a lot more than that!”

Seeing the development of these paddlers is something that gives Zondi a lot of satisfaction and seeing paddlers like Ntondini and Ngamlana coming through the ranks and making an impact nationally is hugely motivating for him and the other paddlers at the club.

“Sitting down and talking to the guys is something that I enjoy because I want to give them my knowledge. I want them to take in the information about training and preparation for big races like the Dusi.

“We stay together at our club house and it’s great seeing some of the guys want to do well and take their training seriously because it means that we are doing something right.

“Seeing the guys come through to the senior ranks is great and now the guys I have seen from the beginning are competing against me!” an enthusiastic Zondi said jokingly.

Zondi and Ngamlana are not letting their hopes for the Dusi get ahead of them and have set themselves a goal of finishing in the top 10.

“Thando is a really strong runner – probably one of the strongest at the club – and he has improved his paddling a lot so we are really hoping that if it all goes well we could end in the top 10,” Zondi said confidently.

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