Port Elizabeth - The Gous husband and wife pairing of Fanta and Tracy made it a victorious family affair on the opening day of General Tire’s National Lifesaving SA Stillwater Championship at Newton Park.
Day 1 was exclusive to the Masters Pool Events and Summerstrand’s Fanta and Tracy Gous were among the best on show.
(Fanta) Gous was strong in most events in the 45-50 years age group and wife Tracy (in the 40-45 age group) dominated in the pool and was the stand out female athlete.
Among (Tracy) Gous’s victories was the 100 metre Mannikin Tow with Flippers event.
Summerstrand’s Brad Reen was another top performer and Doug Herbert (50-55 years) got his week off to a good start. Herbert is one of only a handful of athletes competing for the prestigious ‘Tough Athlete’ Prize in Stillwater and Surf Events.
General Tire is the sport’s headline sponsor and Ian Langlands, Head of Marketing and Sales, Southern African, Continental Tyre SA, welcomed the near 2 000 competitors to Port Elizabeth.
"General Tire is into its second year as the head sponsor of Lifesaving South Africa and it’s our privilege to be aligned with the first ever combined National Championships in one location. It’s also symbolic for us because General Tire, a brand of Continental, is housed in Port Elizabeth," Langlands said.
"The city’s sporting philosophy is that Port Elizabeth become synonymous with adventure and water sports, and it doesn’t get bigger than the Lifesaving SA surf and pool extravaganza, which will see General Tire and Lifesaving South Africa play host to 2000 competitors from across the country in 528 events."
The South African national squad to compete at the World Championships in Australia will be named at the completion of the National Championships, which run until Sunday, April 8.
Outside of the Stillwater (Pool) and Surf events, South Africa also boasts some of the world’s best in Beach Sprints and Flags. Former World Champion Ryle de Morny leads a class field that includes KZN’s Johnathan Rorke, who in 2017 beat De Morny in the National Championship sprint final, as well as the Eastern Cape’s sprint king Bradley Odendaal.
KZN’s Mandi Maritz, the seasoned lady of South Africa’s Beach Sprints, is again among the medal favourites, although there is huge excitement in her sprint showdown with KZN’s Marine Lifesaving Club’s Bianca von Bargen after the latter’s stunning victory at the KZN Provincial Championships.
South Africa’s 2017 Male Lifesaving Athlete of the Year Nick Notten and Female Lifesaving Athlete of the Year Carmel Billson will both be competing. Both are favourites to defend their individual title and both are expected to be named as part of Team South Africa’s World Championship squad.
KZN’s Martin Binedell is another who has starred in the Pool and Surf and Daniel Jones is one of the locals expected to be on the podium more often than not. Jones in 2017 represented South Africa.
Eastern Province’s junior World Champion in Flags Runaldo Pedro should also be among the medals.
The Masters Surf takes place at Port Elizabeth’s King’s Beach on Sunday and the National Championships Open, Junior and Nippers (Surf and Stillwater) starts on Monday, April 2 at Newton Park and King’s Beach respectively.