The SAMSA Dusi Canoeists did very well at the Dusi Marathon on the Dusi (6-9 February 2014), with one team bagging silver medals and breaking their own record from being 27th last year to 15th in the placing this year. Mhlonishwa Hlongwane and Nqobile Makhanya, part of the SAMSA Change a Life Academy entrants, made it in 2:57 minutes on Saturday.
The rest of the SAMSA Change 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 come from the Inanda area and this was their first Dusi race that they took part in except for Mhlonishwa and Nqomile.
The SAMSA Change a Life Program started with 10 canoeists in October last year and today boasts 21 committed canoeists between the ages of 15 and 22 and 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 who attended the final day of the marathon expressedSAMSA's pride of our little champions.
The COO highlighted that it not important where they fall on the pecking order. But the fact that they finished the race, that they survived it, intact, that they competed with up to 50 international canoeists, that they competed with 1800 other professionals, is remarkable.Following the race this weekend, SAMSA will continue with the Change a Life programme under the leadership of seven times Dusi winner Martin Dreyer.
As this has been a success in highlighting watersport and water safety, it will consider a more strategic role with the DusiMarathon organisers itself. Dreyer was equally pleased and said with his Change a Life team in Nagle Dam, who has 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. On Saturday, the families of the eight youth together with the SAMSA COO and the staff from the SAMSA Durban office received them at the Blue Lagoon with loud jubilation and cheers and cries of delight as mothers and sons embraced each other. Please see the attached pictures for a snap of what took place at the finish.