….ONE YEAR ALREADY – plus Ozzie Gladwin report.


Ozzie Gladwin, the biggest 1-day paddle race in the country sees in the start of a new Dusi year, again… and with that, a very successful year gone by for my ‘Change a life’ academy.


My initial thoughts of training young black guys in the Valley of a Thousand Hills started when I was training with Bungi- Michael Mbanjwa, for the 2008 doubles dusi and spending endless hours at Nagle Dam. We were never the only two sweating it out, trailed by a mass of eager youngsters, on the dam and during our run sessions. It was always humbling for me to see these local warriors dragging the most porous of  vessels to the waters edge, not only to the start of training, but during the course of the session as their boats gradually filled with water and they finally had to succumb to emptying them before full submersion. And if that wasn’t hard-core enough, it continually amazed me as myself and Bungi bounded our way comfortably along the rocky and thorny trails with these barefoot youngsters nipping at our heels.


It took more than a few unsettled nights of waking and scribbling down ideas as to find the best way to make a project like this sustainable and a valuable learning experience for those involved. As I have seen with so many ‘development programmes’, disadvantaged children are bussed in droves to an event, given the sponsors t-shirt and a post-race cooldrink and hotdog and shipped home. No continuity and the organisers reap the benefits of feeling like hero’s for a day.


My years of professional racing have taught me that the factors that are needed to produce the most successful athlete are values such as dedication/focus, hard-work, discipline, team-work and goal setting etc… that apply to everyday life and are needed in order to achieve outside of sport.

Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Race

Apart from the debacle of a start, the race operated like a well oiled machine. Paddlers loved the extra technical river section with the finish further downstream.

Race Organisers NCC, applied all the Bells &Whistles to the Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Race – Hansa/Powerade girls at the finish, post race lunch race…. But this came at a cost in the form of an increased entry fee, normally R50, now R100. Was this the reason for the drop in entries? You decide….


Long time friends, Thomas Ngidi and Eric Zondi were the first ‘Change a Life’ athletes across the line, placing 6th overall. Chasing hard, only 28 seconds behind were team-mates Zonele Nzuza and Nhlanhla Cele, coming 8th. Hot on their tail, 10 seconds adrift, were the new combination of Skhumbuso Ngidi and Nkosi Cele in 9th position.


Juniors Mzamo Zondi and Mmeli Cele came an impressive 16th overall, second under 18 crew. The other newly formed junior crew of Siboniso Shozi and Scelo Mzolo limped across the line having damaged their boat enroute.


Lucas Mthalane’s Dusi partner John Ngcobo couldn’t make the race and so paddled K1. Mark Mulder’s misfortune (wrapping his boat a kilometer from the finish) was a lucky break for Lucas, allowing him to claim the honour of first K1 across the line.


Len and Hank were the last to set off from the disjointed start, but nevertheless powered their way up to the front bunch and then proceeded to drop everyone on the run, and paddle pat Malone to the end, beating the hot Dusi crew of Ant & Bungi by 64seconds (first & second in this year’s Dusi).

First woman crew were Hilary Pi


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