Martin Dreyer’s FNB Change a Life Academy crew of Banetse Nkhoesa and Msawenkosi Mtolo have made it clear that they will be challenging for a pace on the podium at the 2020 Dui Canoe Marathon next week.
With a win at the final Dusi seeding race this past weekend, the Euro Steel pair is well and truly in the mix of favourites and with a podium to his name in 2016, Nkhoesa knows what it takes to finish well and he believes that they are in the right frame of mind.
“We have been working with our coach Andrew Booyens throughout the season and he put us on a good programme over December and January,” Nkhoesa said.
“When we got to 50 Miler we weren’t expecting much so we were quite surprised when we were with the top guys and managed to finish third. At Ozzie Gladwin we were also surprised that we managed to stay with the front guys.
“Usually we have to catch up on the run but we managed to put in first after the flat water paddle and we still go tired but we were really happy with how that went.”
This past weekend at the Campbells to Dusi Bridge the pair showed that they are in peaking at the right time and Nkhoesa feels that they could push for a spot in the top five.
“What we achieved on Sunday just helped us realise that our goal for finishing in the top five could be achievable.
“Our build-up has been very good and we have combined well which I am happy about and maybe we can even do better than we are expecting,” Nkhoesa added.
Young Mtolo has a solid Dusi pedigree behind him with a thirteenth overall in 2019 and a third in the Under 23 age category and a twelfth in 2018 in a K2 with Mmeli Cele.
“I was hoping for a top ten in 2018 but that didn’t work out but Banetse and I have combined well and we are excited for this year’s Dusi,” Mtolo said.
“Being up at the front of the races this season has been good for us because we can see how strong the competition is.
“There are a lot of Change a Life crews that are looking very strong going into this year’s Dusi with Mvelo Ngidi and Thabani Msiya looking very strong so it is going to be a good race against the other Change a Life crews.”
To be pushing for a top five excites Nkhoesa as it will be fairly foreign territory for both of them despite his podium finish in 2016.
“Despite my one podium finish we both haven’t got into the top five so it’s really exciting that we are amongst the crews fighting for those five spots.
“We know that Andy (Birkett) and Khumbulani (Nzimande) will be the favourites to take the title and Sbonelo (Khwela) and Thulani (Mbanjwa) will also be strong.
“We need to make sure that we can try and stick with these crews to give ourselves a chance to finish in the top five,” Nkhoesa added.
The 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place for 27 to 29 February 2020.