Pietermaritzburg – Following his recent podium finish at the Drak Challenge recently, Siseko Ntondini is downplaying his chances of a Dusi Canoe Marathon podium finish when he gets to Blue Lagoon on Saturday, February 16.
Ntondini was in fine form at the Southern Drakensberg classic last month, and with the cream of the river racing crop there he made a number of Dusi hopefuls take notice when he finished behind winner Andy Birkett and young Stew Little in second.
“To be able to finish on the podium against such a strong field has given me a lot of confidence,” Ntondini said. “The Drak has given me even more motivation to do well at the Dusi and I am hoping that I can have a good, clean race.”
Ntondini might not have lived up to his full potential at the Dusi with a seventh place finishing being his best K1 return, but he has been working hard at trying to improve on the areas that he has battled with in the past.
“I have been doing a lot of running because that is where I am weaker.
“I much prefer to paddle so running is where I have put a lot of my focus, but in Joburg we don’t have the hills like you experience along the Dusi!
“We do have the altitude so that is always good for training and I hope that I can improve this year.”
Last year Ntondini spent a large portion of the build up to the 2018 Dusi with his partner Sbonelo Khwela in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.
The pair were in a dog fight for second spot and lost out on an end sprint to Carl Folscher and Adrian Boros to take third place.
Being able to train on the river and learn from Khwela is something that Ntondini is grateful for.
“It was incredible to see how Sbonelo drove through some tough conditions. I was able to learn low water skills from him and get advice on specific racing lines; so that information should benefit me this year.”
When speaking about his chances at the iconic three-day race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, Ntondini is quietly confident and hasn’t pushed himself too far in the build up to the race next week.
“I want to finish in the top 10 and I know that I can definitely do that.
“If I have a perfect race with no mistakes then I think that I can push for a top five and I would be unbelievably happy with that!
“There are so many incredible paddlers and with the likes of Stew Little, Banetse Nkhoesa, a whole lot of the Change a Life guys it is going to be so hard to get into that top five,” he stressed.