Change a Life Academy
9 Apr 2015
Written by: Kyle Gilham
Milestone achievements for Change a Life sprint sensations
Pietermaritzburg – The 2015 South African Canoe Sprint Championships that
took place over the weekend, will forever be remembered as a magical two
days for Martin Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy after Under-18
youngsters Thabani Msiya and Msawenkosi Mtolo claimed three gold medals and
a silver at the National contest.
Up against some of the country’s top teenage canoe sprint talent, the
Valley of a Thousand Hills youngsters headed to Roodeplaat Dam in Gauteng
where the duo clinched the silver medal in the Under-18 boys’ K2 1000m
contest before going on to claim gold in their age group’s 200m, 500m and
5000m K2 events.
“Msawenkosi and Thabani’s success was an unexpected, yet a very welcome
surprise to all of us, including themselves!” beams former ‘Dusi Duke’ and
Academy founder Dreyer.
“For them to have won SA Sprint Champs gold medals is just incredible and
goes down in history as the first time black development paddlers have won
a SA Champs title!”
The pair’s remarkable journey from sprinting wilderness to national gold
medalists has been a surprisingly short one and began shortly before this
year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon.
“Msawenkosi and Thabani live at [Bus Stop] Number 9, near Dusi Bridge, and
with the Msundusi’s flow here not being predictable enough for them to
train on properly, Change a Life rented a house at Inanda Dam where they
stayed for two months.
“Under the guidance of top ten Dusi Change a Lifer Mhlonishwa Hlongwane,
the two enjoyed a High Performance training camp valley style, if you like,
and it was there that they jumped to a whole new level!
“Compared to the Dusi – which is endurance based and involves running with
the boat – sprinting really is not their strength but the hard work that
these two have put in has been exceptional and now to see them achieve such
great results really is fantastic!”
Like that of many of their fellow Valley of a Thousand Hills paddling
hopefuls, Mtolo and Msiya’s paddling journey has been a difficult one as
they are forced to overcome the daily challenges they are presented with in
order to achieve their goals.
“Talent beats hard work every time, except when talent doesn’t work hard!”
“These two, in particular, are willing to work hard and that’s what has
just been so pleasing to see!
“They don’t have it easy by any means. For example, just for this SA
Sprints trip they had to hop onto a bus to get to Johannesburg and then
catch a taxi to the dam and camp there for three days during the
championships. They competed in a borrowed, year-old Dusi river boat while
many others enjoyed the luxury of a lighter, stiff sprint boat.
“Mentally this didn’t affect them though, as they don’t know any different.
The recently concluded KZN river marathon season signaled a change in focus
within the Change a Life setup with a greater emphasis placed on flat water
racing and the next generation of stars.
On top of the programme’s great Dusi showing, Mtolo and Msiya’s recent
sprint success further justifies the shift and signaled the reaching of a
major milestone not only for the pair but the entire programme as well.
“There is no denying that the Dusi is what gets our Change a Life Zulus
super excited,” explains Dreyer. “However these guys just love the sport of
canoeing and are passionate about paddling in general!”
“Msawenkosi and Thabani’s sprint achievements are a big step in the right
direction in our bid to diversify away from just being Dusi specialists.
“More importantly though, their gold medals have given the rest of our
Change a Life youngsters the belief that they too can reach the top!
“It’s all well and good telling someone they can do it but when they can
see it for themselves, then their motivation and belief go through the
“Msawenkosi and Thabani’s achievements reaffirm that what we’re doing does
in fact have a positive impact on the lives of others and it is great to be
able to thank those who have believed in what we’re trying to achieve such
as Computershare, USN and Hi-Tec with results as big as these!” he adds.
The annual SA Marathon Championships now draw near, representing Mtolo and
Msiya’s next major challenge.
The pair will give the flat water nationals their all as they look to
challenge for a spot in the National team that will head to Hungary in
September for the 2015 Canoe Marathon World Championships.
“It’s great that they’ve now got good confidence and believe in themselves.
“Amazingly, they’ve reached this level without much attention on details
such as a lightweight boat, sprint paddles, pull straps, etc.
“Now that they’ve proven themselves we will get their setup correct which
should have an immediate positive impact on their performance.
“We look forward to seeing how they will go at SA Marathons!” says Dreyer.
download the hi-resolution pic
Change a Life
Academy logo - jpeg
Computershare Change a Life Academy
paddlers Thabani Msiya (left) and Msawenkosi Mtolo (right) made history
when they became the first ever black development paddlers to clinch a gold
medal at the South African Canoe Sprint Championships held at Roodeplaat
Dam in Gauteng over the weekend.
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