Canoeing: Dusi qualifier attracts big development field

2010-10-28 00:00

AS many as eight development paddlers from the Valley of 1000 Hills are predicted to feature in the top 20 this Sunday at the first Dusi qualifying race of the season.

The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin Canoe­ Marathon will take place at the Bon Accord resort at Albert Falls and is the biggest one-day canoe race in the country.

Dusi legeng Martin Dreyer will be guiding a number of aspiring Dusi paddlers, from his “Change a Life” Development Academy down the river­.

“My guys are looking forward to the event as this will be the first Dusi qualifier of the season. The event puts the paddlers through their paces with flat water, a tough portage and a great river section. This makes it ideal for paddlers to start preparations for next year’s Dusi,” said Dreyer.

Dreyer’s academy has served as a start for many development paddlers who are recognised based on their performance at the Dusi.

“We have a number of paddlers who started with the academy who performed well at the Dusi and have been snapped up by clubs all over the country to initiate development programmes. While it is sad to lose people­ from the academy, it gives me pleasure in literally seeing people’s lives changed through the sport.”

A number of Dreyer’s charges advance to become coaches at other canoe­ clubs in South Africa or are awarded university bursaries, while others are offered employment with fellow paddlers.

Dreyer is confident that at least eight of his paddlers will finish in the top 20 on Sunday. Some of the paddlers to look out for are Eric Zondi and Zonele Nzuza, as well as brothers Nhlanhla and Richard Cele who all finished in the top 20 at the 2010 Dusi. Rising star Kwanda Nhlophe who won the junior section of the Dusi­ 2010, could well be in the top five at The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin this Sunday.

Dreyer said: “The importance of the Ozzie should not be underestimated as the most important preparation race for The Unlimited Dusi 2011.”

A water release of 12 cumecs from Albert Falls Dam has been guaranteed which will test paddlers’ skills on the rapids in the river section from the Albert Falls put-in to the new finish­ about six kilometres past Shabalaala­’s Farm.

The total prize money for the event is over R32 000 with the new title sponsor, The Unlimited, adding a few surprises of their own, including an additional R1 000 hotspot prize on the route.

Entries for the race are available from canoe shops or at — Own Correspondent.

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