The school league, now organised by St Davids Marist College parent / teacher group on behalf of Gauteng, organised the first race of 2015 on Saturday 14 February, using the sprint lanes at Roodeplaat Dam, with the support of the hosting club, Academy of Canoe Development.

The races were a great success covering distances of 1000m, 500m and 250m, in sprint lanes, to prepare the young paddlers for their first and very important prestigious SA Schools Sprint – interprovincial competition which takes place end April.

More than 90 young school going canoeists participated with youngest paddlers being 6 years of age, and parents enjoyed an exhausting day with gazebo’s and packed coolerboxes sweltering in the Pretoria heat on a superb summer day!

In the under 8 girls race, Bonolo Mohapi from Cosmos City representing Florida Lake Canoe Club took the first place and gold medal, after points for the 3 distances were accumulated for an overall score, with Chane Fouche and Danielle Weideman putting up a good fight to the finish to take 2nd and 3rd, both representing Parys Likkewaan Kanoe Klub and H F Verwoerd Laerskool and for all three girls, it was their very first real race – the little girls were unable to keep their boats straight at the line up in the chop, with the waves whipped up by a gentle breeze on the massive dam, nor to keep track of the buoy line of their lanes, and zigzagged happily all over the course, completing much more mileage than required, but with strong and confident paddle strokes!

In the Under 8 boys race, it was Divan Bornman, Pieter van Nierkerk and Joshua Olivier who brought in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions representing H F Verwoerd, Kruinpark and Louise Leipold schools, from Likkewaan club, Sasol in Trichardspruit, and Centurion respectively. Some of these little boys are really also quite tiny but despite marshalls on duty to escort them to the far distant start line, the young paddlers never tipped over even in the waves side on, and paddled confidently and effectively – our hope for our future of the sport!

Anja Bornman from Likkewaan (H F Verwoerd school) won the Under 10 ladies race with a new entrant to the age group taking the 2nd place, from Curro Aurora and Florida Lake, Ameerah Hank, while the 3rd place finisher was Landile Tsabala, from the Academy of Canoe Development sprint academy based at Roodeplaat dam, and Die Poort Primary school also completing her first ever canoe race.

Likkewaan and HF Verwoerd were represented on the podium by first place winner in Under 10 boys, Chentin Mienie as well, with 2nd place going to St Davids Marist College Primary school pupil, Nicholas Erwee who trains at Dabulamanzi Canoe Club, while Luke Watkins took the 3rd podium position on the day – also a Dabs paddler, from St Davids!

The Under 12 competition in the girls division was led by Kamilah Hank (FLCC/Curro Aurora), with Tinyiko Mahwayi (Sowetan young lady who attends Fordsburg Primary) while another Sowetan girl brought in the points and medal for 3rd place, Thembelihle Jokozela from Inkwenkwe.

The juniors all earn points for their accumulated sprint races and all school league events throughout the year, which are totalled for the annual year end prizegiving, and credited to the individual, the school and the club represented for recognition. Nobody is a loser, and the more consistent participation, the more points accumulate!

In the Under 12 boys competition where the racing is getting serious, the winners were Matthew van der Merwe, Connor Erwee and Dominic Di Nicola in the overall points accumulation, representing Charter house, and St Davids twice over respectively from Florida Lake and Dabulamanzi.

Megan Oelofse (Lik/H F Verwoerd) retained her position as leading lady of her age group despite having moved up to Under 14 this year, with 2nd place overall going to Alexis Rich from Parktown Girls who train at Dabs, and the 3rd place winning lady was jaemi Wellisch from St Catherine’s and Victoria Lake Canoe Club.

The Under 14 boys races become serious as the young lads move into puberty, although a few just moving up into the age group have a serious year’s disadvantage which helps them develop strength of character and race work ethic. Wian Bornman (Lik/HF Verwoerd) was the first place finisher, with Sowetan Zanenhlanhla Mbala in 2nd place, from Inkwenkwezi Primary, and Jaydon Hunt new into the age group finished up 3rd after a hard fought battle (FLCC/Rand Park Ridge)

Caroline van Der Linde retained her winning streak, finishing as first under 16 girl, representing Likkewaan, and now Hoerskool Parys, with the Parktown Girls from Dabs taking 2nd and 3rd place – Pooja Satyaprakesh and Priyanka Padayachee.

The highly competitive Under 16 boys race was won by Jonathan Jooste (Lik/Hoerskool Parys) with Sowetans Sibusiso Chwayi and Onke Lona Magadla taking 2nd and 3rd podium position, representing Nkonkhwezi and Musi high schools.

We were blessed with 3 girls also in the Under 18 race, which was won by Bianca Van Zyl returning to the sport after a couple of years break, from Hoerskool Linden trained at Dabs, Asanda Ndlovu and Sneziwe Gxobole (SCARC club) from Soweto’s Bopasenatle high School were 2nd and 3rd finishers respectively.

The Under 18 boys race was won by Siyabonga Tyiki (Sow), Jonty Griesel (Lik) and Moses Ngohae (FLCC) from Bona, Hoerskool Parys and Ztada in Soweto.

Finally the 3 C1 paddlers from the Academy of Canoe Development at Roodeplaat, from Chitabane and Leeufontein schools respectively won medals for their age groups Under 14, and two in Under 16 – Kgomotso Kapa, Johannes Morulane and Mpho Kgosana.

The long tiring race day of excitement, nerves and sunburn ended with a pleasant prizegiving and lots of smiling young faces.

Well done to ALL who participated in the races and added to their school and club’s credit.

Jennie Dallas

for GCU PR