Pietermaritzburg - The 2018 Dusi Canoe Marathon is set to dish up a
number of mouth-watering showdowns, none more exciting than the contest for the
Under-23 men's crown from February 15-17.
The prestigious age-group title is one that many have striven to hold, however
the calibre and competitiveness of paddler in the Under-23 age category makes
the racing that much harder with a number of crews eyeing strong overall race
As the generations change and the faces shift into the senior age category, the
Under-23 age group provides a number of paddlers with their last shot at age
group glory before they fight it out with the best elite paddlers in the
One of the pairs that will be searching for glory in the Under-23 age group
race will be the impressive duo of Stewart Little and Khumbulani Nzimande.
The pair were the highest placed Under-23 crew at the recent 50 Miler Canoe
Marathon, a race that provides a strong gauge as to who the Dusi contenders
"It's been quite difficult for us to train together in the build up to the
Dusi," Little said. "With me in Underberg and
Khumbulani at Nagle Dam we have had very few chances to train together but this
past weekend we put in three really good sessions.
"We thought about not racing the Campbell's Farm to Dusi Bridge race, but
we raced because it was good tripping for us."
The duo understand that they are going to be up against some tough
crews for the title, however Little feels that they need to rather focus on
their own strengths.
"We need to race practically and we both know that we are better in the
latter stages of the race so we don't want to go out too quickly.
"Our transitions between paddling and running are good and we gel really
well in the boat with me steering and Khumbulani providing all the power!"
Arguably the Under-23 favourites, the cousin duo of Mthobisi Cele and Mpilo
Zondi have been building well towards the Dusi, despite a glitch at the recent
Campbell's to Dusi Bridge race.
"We are on track with our preparation and we have been training really
hard for the Dusi," Cele commented.
"Last weekend's race didn't go as well as we would have liked and we made
a few mistakes that cost us a bit. It was still a good bit of practice for us
and has told us that we still have work to do!"
The pair waltzed to the 2017 Non-Stop Dusi title in trying conditions, but they
will not be relying on that win as their source of confidence.
"That Non-Stop win was very different. The conditions were different and
there is a lot more paddling involved in the Dusi so we are looking forward to
the challenge of the Dusi."
With Little/Nzimande, Martin Dreyer's Change a Life Academy's Siyanda Gwamanda
and Nqobile Makhanya, Mvelo Ngidi and Thabani Msiya as well as Nkhosikhona
Mabaso and Jabulani Gwamanda all out to win the age category, Cele and Zondi
don't feel like they are under any more pressure.
"We are all really good friends with the other guys so it doesn't feel
like a competition, but it will be an exciting race!"