As perennial achievers at the Dusi Canoe Marathon, Martin Dreyer’s FNB Change a Life Academy lead some stellar paddling results at the recent 50 Miler and Mfula to Inanda races as they look to the Dusi at the end of February.
Change a Life’s leading paddler Khumbulani Nzimande is teaming up with nine-time Dusi Canoe Marathon champion Andy Birkett for this year’s race and the pair showed that they will be the K2 to beat with two good wins against stacked fields recently.
“Andy and Khumbulani sit very nicely in the boat together,” Martin Dreyer said. “It’s fantastic to see someone of Andy’s amazing ability and pedigree taking on a raw super athlete in Khumbulani. He will likely make a huge impression on him.
“No matter what the Dusi result, the three months training together will be a life changing experience for this youngster from the Valley of a Thousand Hills.
“Khumbulani is a work horse of note and will not take this opportunity lightly. We can see that they are combining really well together.”
Fellow Change a Life stars Banetse Nkhoesa and Msawenkosi Mtolo finished in third place at the 50 Miler and this is a combination that Dreyer has high hopes for going into the Dusi.
“I believe that Banetse and Msawenkosi are going to be very competitive and are the dark horse combination at this year’s Dusi,” Dreyer commented. “They are such a well balanced team, with an abundance of talent with regards to running and paddling. Their personalities suit each other which is crucial when you spend so much time training together.
“Their result from 50 Miler against a very strong field will give them a lot of confidence going forward as they eye a top five at the Dusi,” said Dreyer.
The top fifteen of the 50 Miler was packed with FNB Change a Life paddlers.
“What is encouraging to see is that paddlers from the academy are sought after Dusi partners and it’s exciting that some have been invited by good paddlers outside of the academy.
“Kwandokhule Mzolo is paddling with Jack Edmonds and they will be going for a podium in the Under 18 category, whilst Zonele Nzuza is paddling with Trenton Lamble and they will be looking for a top ten finish.”
Of all his Change a Life crews he has also singled out the young duo of Mvelo Ngidi and Thabani Msiya as strong contenders for a top ten despite a tough weekend of racing recently.
“I think Mvelo and Thabani’s result from 50 Miler doesn’t reflect their true ability.
“They will be hoping to do well in the under 23 category but being one of the most competitive age groups at the Dusi so they will have to have a flawless race,” Dreyer added.
The Dusi will attract development teams from all over the country and the strong Soweto Canoeing and Recreation Club (SCARC) will also send through some strong paddlers that will be pushing for top ten spots.
The 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place for 27 to 29 February 2020.