It’s back to school for young racer

2009-01-20 00:00

It’s back to school for the only under-18 racer to finish in the top 20 of this year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon. Although he’ll be focusing more on his studies now that he’s reached the final leg of his academic career, the 17-year-old still plans to “take his sport seriously”.

Kwanda Mhlophe, who hails from the Nagle Dam area, will join thousands of grade 12 pupils as they embark on the most crucial year of their schooling careers. However, this St Charles sports enthusiast has already mapped out his sporting activities for 2009 – and will definitely race in next year’s Dusi.

“I’m going to try to juggle my studies and sports this year,” Kwanda said. “I’m going to put more effort into my studies … but I did get permission from the school to train for the race.”

Kwanda gained much acclaim at this year’s Dusi when he came 18th. Not only did he come first in the under-18 category, but he was also the youngest racer to feature in the top 20. “It was unbelievable. I was very happy and surprised. It was unreal – the attention from the media, the photographers, and the crowd was very happy. The atmosphere was great!”

Kwanda started canoeing in 2000 with the Lembethe Canoe Club (where Dusi favourite Michael Mbanjwa started out). He first attempted the Dusi in 2007 where he took first place in the under-16 category.

For this year’s race, Kwanda trained with Dusi veteran Martin Dreyer as part of the Change a Life initiative.

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