2022 Fish River Canoe Marathon Media Service  No: Fish2205

 22 Sept 2022

 Embargo: None Written by: Nick Tatham

Fish begins Mbanjwa’s summer paddling program

Cradock – South African paddling veteran Thulani Mbanjwa has added his name to the growing entry for the 2022 Fish River Canoe Marathon, and while he comes into the race with limited expectations, the race forms an important cog in his summer paddling plans.

The Eastern Cape classic from 8-9 October has often fallen outside of Mbanjwa’s priority competing block but it plays a role in his preparation for the KZN marathon season. His limited preparation for this year’s Fish has also come as a result of other exciting developments.

“I started the Thulani Mbanjwa Sports Academy in the Valley of a Thousand Hills earlier in the year and that has been a big focus for me,” the icon of paddling Mbanjwa said.

“We have taken on twenty eight children as part of the academy and it’s been an incredible journey seeing how sport, and canoeing, can change lives.

“So many of the kids that we have part of the academy are there to get away from drugs and crime and to see how happy they are when they come to training after school is incredible.”

The academy has reduced the time available to Mbanjwa to train but there is far more motivation for him as he reflects on his journey.

“I was like these kids and I was fortunate enough to have Robert Lembethe to help me begin my career in canoeing.

“I would never have dreamed that I would have been able to make a career out of canoeing if it wasn’t for the Lembethe academy,” a grateful Mbanjwa added.

Mbanjwa’s annual focus is the MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon and that will again be his aim in 2023 so heading into the Fish next month he’s kept his expectations modest.

“I always say if you haven’t been training for Fish then you will battle to finish in the top ten,” he commented.

“I am aiming for a top 20 this year but I think that if I can stay in my boat for both days then I can get a top ten.

“Earlier this year I raced the Berg on no training so I have a bit of a base but the pace is completely different and you need to avoid mistakes because that can cost you a lot at the Fish.”

With big rapids and ice-cold water, the Fish provides a number of challenges for paddlers and Mbanjwa has never quite come to terms with those despite fifteen finishers medals.

“You are never comfortable at the Fish! When you hit Double Trouble and feel that cold water, it gets you.

“Then Keith’s is always such a hard rapid to get right in the race and you can ask anyone, it’s not easy at all.

“I am never fully confident going into the Fish but it is definitely a race that I really enjoy and I’m looking forward to racing there again.

“There are going to be some of the top guys missing because they will be overseas but it’s always a really tough race with a strong field,” Mbanjwa said.

More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za.


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Heading into another exciting Dusi Canoe Marathon season, veteran Thulani Mbanjwa is using the Fish River Canoe Marathon from 8-9 October as an important kick-start to his summer programme. Anthony Grote/
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