Youth’s dream to represent SA in Championships looking bleak

2013-06-06 00:00

FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Raymond Radebe from the Valley of a Thousand Hills is set to represent South Africa at the junior and U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Slovakia.

Radebe, a grade 11 pupil at Banqobile High School, is expected to participate in the K1 and C1 categories in Liptovsky, Mikulas, in northern Slovakia from July 17 to 21.

For the uninitiated, the K1 category will see Raymond compete in a kayak using a double-bladed paddle while sitting with his legs extended forward, whereas in the C1 category, he will be in a kneeling position with a single-bladed paddle in an open-decked canoe.

Both these categories will test Raymond’s speed and skill, as he negotiates his way through green and red gates consisting of one or two poles hanging from a wire strung across the course of the river.

“I am very excited to be representing my country at an international level. Even though I am only 15, I am not intimidated because canoeing is my life,” said Raymond, who started paddling when he was only 10.

Earlier this year, Raymond was placed third at the national championships at Black Rock in Bethlehem, where he was consequently selected to represent South Africa in Slovakia. Raymond and Japhta Elephant, his coach and now the SA team manager, are the first international representatives of the Msunduzi Canoe Slalom Development project.

Don Wewege, former three times national champion and committee member of Canoe South Africa, was full of praises for Raymond’s achievements.

“Canoeing as a sport teaches you many things: how to read a river, what a river does, how to swim and all these are lessons for life,” said Wewege. “Radebe’s is an inspiration to many young men to take up canoeing not only as a sport, but as a means of livelihood.”

However, Raymond’s and Elephant’s dream of representing South Africa is looking bleak due to a lack of financial support from the KZN Department of Sport.

Anyone interested in supporting Raymond Radebe and his coach towards their participation in Slovakia should contact Don Wewege at 072 299 6233 or e-mail him at

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