Change a Life Academy Media Release  No: CAL2001

19 Mar 2020

 Embargo: None  Written by: Nick Tatham

Change a Life stars dominate Dusi season

Pietermaritzburg – With the 2020 Dusi season a thing of the past, Martin Dreyer’s FNB Change a Life Academy were the big winners on and off the water as they crowded both the Dusi Canoe Marathon and Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon top ten’s.

This year’s Dusi produced drama from start to finish as crews jostled for position, however it was Andy Birkett and young Change a Life star Khumbulani Nzimande who were too strong and raced away to eventually claim a famous victory.

Nzimande, who finished fourth in the K1 Dusi in 2019, spent months down in East London with his partner Birkett as the pair devised a plan to hold off the likes of Sbonelo Khwela and Thulani Mbanjwa and Lance Kime and Shaun Rubenstein.

It didn’t go their way throughout with a swim on day two forcing them to fight back as Khwela and Mbanjwa took the lead. Their class shone through ultimately as they powered to a deserved victory.
“It was a privilege for Khumbulani to partner Andy, from whom he learnt so much,” Dreyer said. “Equally I think Andy was impressed with the raw athleticism, power and enthusiasm shown by Khumbulani.

Change a Life Zulus, Banetse Nkhoesa and Msawenkosi Mtolo were a power pair through the three days and finished fourth overall while the top twenty boats home included many of their fellow team mates.

In one of the most impressive displays from a Change a Life pair, Thabani Msiya and Mvelo Ngidi won the Under 23 category and came across the line ninth overall.

Ultimately in the top 20 at this year’s Dusi there were ten boats that were either entirely-Change a Life boats or included a paddler from the academy.

The Non-Stop Dusi has traditionally been dominated by former Change a Life star Sbonelo Khwela however this year it was one for the youngsters as Thabani Msiya and Msawenkosi Mtolo showed how they have come of age to win the overall crown.

“Stringing three perfect back to back Dusi days together with zero mistakes is not luck,” Dreyer added. “You can’t be lucky for nine hours plus on a technical river and tough portages. They showed incredible skill, endurance and teamwork”.

Incredibly, the first four boats were all either current or former Change a Life Academy paddlers, reinforcing their traditional dominance of the gruelling Dusi in a Day.

In another impressive result, academy founder Martin Dreyer and his wife Jeannie finished in sixth overall and first mixed double.

“Non-Stop has been a Bucket List event for Jeannie for many years and to cross the finish line having zero mishaps and big smiles, made it even more special,” quipped Dreyer.

This result went together with their 33rd overall at the Dusi and first mixed doubles crown.


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It was another watershed moment for the FNB Change a Life Academy as Khumbulani Nzimande (back) partnered with Andy Birkett (front) to win the 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon. Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

In what was a brilliant display, FNB Change a Life Academy's Msawenkosi Mtolo (left) and Thabani Msiya (right) won the 2020 Garden City Commercials Non-Stop Dusi last week. Martin Dreyer/
Gameplan Media

The FNB Change a Life Academy duo of Thabani Msiya (front) and Msawenkosi Mtolo (back) put in a mature display to win the 2020 Garden City Commercials Non-Stop Dusi. Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media
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