Archive for May 2011
Although I would never stray from my hardcore Dusi warriors, I have wanted to geographically branch out with my ‘Change a Life’ Academy’s Mission Statement - to assist those that have talent, yet come from a disadvantaged background and would never otherwise have the means to see how good they could be.
So…. New ‘Change a Life’ athlete, John Ntuli, joined my Change a Life Academy September last year. John has climbed to the top of the ‘exponential curve of performance’. He comes from the North Coast, and although he does not paddle, he runs like the wind and since CAL gave him a new light-weight Schwinn hard tail a couple of months ago, his cycling has jumped 30 levels. So much so that he came 5th overall in the Husquvarna Mtb Race, traversing through the Gwahumbe Nature Reserve, a month ago. But more impressively he just obtained the crown of KZN Duathlon Champion, when he won Gold in the 10km run, 40km cycle and 5km run elite race a few weeks ago. With miserable weather, the slippery roads made for hazardous bike conditions, especially during cornering.
He is the ultimate CAL ambassador, well mannered, quietly spoken, yet a fierce competitor. I am proud to have someone like John now part of the CAL family.
For months a good friend of mine from the Spionkop dam area, has been on my case that there is this unemployed youngster on his farm that runs everywhere, but at super sonic speed. Cut a long story short, Abrahim caught a lift down to Maritzburg last Friday, I gave him a new pair of Hi-Tec Infinity running shoes, accommodated him in the local Backpackers, and organised a lift for him to compete in the Kzn X-country League race the following day. After wishing him goodluck, he threw his arms around me – thanking me endlessly…. The runners here are of a super high standard, with the winners capable of running a sub 30min 10km. He impressed all by finishing in a very credible 6th position overall in the tough offroad 12km Elite race. I accomodated him again that night and the following day set him off with Usn Cyto Power under-arm, in a taxi back to Ladismith. Abrahim, we will meet again soon….
My ‘Change a Life’ X-country League Schools races are ticking along beautifully. Once a week we hold a X-country run at a School and a ‘Change a life’ athlete organises that run and documents the times of the first 50 athletes. The children get their time called out as they cross the finish line and then they sit down in that order they finished and write their time in the sand to remember it.
Then in June we will have a Inter Schools X-Country competition and the 10 runners + sports teacher & principal of the wiining School will go to the Spur to eat as much as they can and watch a movie. Second place gets to go to the Spur but no Movie. Third place will get food parcels. With many of the Schools being a fair distance from each other, I asked Kwanda Mhlophe to help coordinate getting the weekly time sheets from the athletes and he has impressed me tremendously – neat and timely. Richard Cele too has been impressive with his handling of his designated Schools.
We had some fun when Lauren from USN (production manager) and Presenter from Expresso spent a full day down at Nagle to document the lives of my CAL athletes, but more specific to educate the viewer on their ‘use of the USN products in training and
racing’. Eric was a complete natural in front of the TV camera, talking to the presenter as if he was his best pal. Telling how it was in the beginning, when he used to mix sugar with water for racing. Now he talks of CytoPower for training, RecoverMax ‘Milkshake’ for straight after. He gives special mention of using ‘Vooma’ on his runs and Epic Pro for the most important of races, but not forgetting to take CrampBlock, especially on those days when it is very hot – “Shew, he has come a long way….” I thought to myself.
At day-end, Nico said how hard can this paddling thing actually be. My Zulus were quick to encourage him to try it and then followed through with “I bet you can’t paddle past those buoys (40m away fro shore) without falling in” Game on – cut a long story short – Nico stayed upright for a max of 4m.
Suddenly, his respect for my Zulus went skywards, especially as he watched Lucas show off, standing upright in his canoe, turning 360 degrees, before sitting down again to continue paddling. This TV footage was edited into five 7 min slots and aired daily on Expresso on SABC 3, Monday through to Friday at 6.30 am.
The bulk of the paddlers in my CAL have been training hard for the last 8 weeks for the SA Schools Sprint Champs, which have just come and gone – Many of them made it through the numerous heats to get into the finals. My star junior, Paulos
Shozi, medalled in the very competitive under 18 age group, getting silver in the 1000m and bronze in the 200m races. Then himself and Mmeli Cele raced K2 (double canoe) and bronzed in the 1000m and 500m races. As a result they have both been awarded their KZN Provincial Colours and ironically I was asked to hand out the awards at the Awards Dinner- so that was quite special giving it to them.
Less than 2 months away, celebrating its 50th anniversary, the legendary Windhoek Berg Canoe Marathon looks set to be a real cracker this year. Referred to as the Comrades of Canoeing, to get to the finish line, Canoeists need to paddle 60km a day for 4 days. With snow sometimes on the nearby mountains, the Weather Gods can make it a real battle of survival, pitting ice-cold winds and rain relentlessly upon the paddlers. Come race day, there too is a chance of sunny skies…. – such is the Challenge of the Berg Canoe Marathon.
Title Race sponsors – Windhoek lager, have given the ‘Change a Life’ Academy a special invitation to come experience this race. We are discussing this opportunity at length. It seems it’s not the endurance factor, but more the possibility of extreme weather that concerns my Zulus.
My saying of “there is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people” is sure to get them fired up for the challenge.