Sport24 profiles the bright future
for lifesaving in South Africa.
Australia sets the standard in world
lifesaving, but South Africa’s talented elite athletes will have aspirations of
a top three surf finish when the World Championship play out, either in 2021 or
South Africa’s pool challenge is
that much tougher because of the emphasis on pool events from European teams.
World Lifesaving’s governing body
cancelled this year’s world championships, due to have taken place in Italy
later this year. No decision has yet been made on whether to abandon this
year’s event in totality and focus on the 2022 World Championships.
This followed the cancellation of
the Wimpy Lifesaving South African National Club Championships, which was to be
held in Port Elizabeth from 19-25 March.
All events were cancelled because of
the coronavirus and the escalating spread of Covid-19.
Whether the world championships
continues in 2021 or reverts to the original calendar date of 2022, Team South
Africa’s combination of seasoned and new generation will be a year wiser, and
also a year stronger in terms of growth and preparation.
Australia, in October 2019, won the
International Surf Rescue Challenge Trophy for an eighth successive time. South
Africa, as hosts, finished third overall in the senior and junior categories.
The event is split into three separate Test days and the most encouraging
aspect of South Africa’s performance was the significant improvement from the
first Test to the third and final Test.
Team South Africa, in the first
Test, totalled 75 points to finish behind Australia and New Zealand. In the
third Test they improved this to 85 points.
They also had to do without the
seasoned Ryle de Morny, who suffered a shoulder injury in the flags
event on the opening day. De Morny was favoured to take first place in the
flags, which is an event he has dominated locally and internationally for the
past decade. De Morny has won more world championship medals than any other
The injury also forced him out of
the sprint, which is another discipline in which he traditionally has excelled.
In his absence, team-mate Sameer Matthews upstaged the more illustrious
Australia and New Zealand sprinters to take gold.
South Africa also showed the quality
of versatility in the squad to win the beach sprint relay, despite only having
one beach specialist in the quartet.
The overall three-Test event was a
personal triumph for Fish Hoek’s famed Notten family, with brothers Nick and
Dominic in good form and sister Anna also contributing to South Africa’s
standing in all three Tests.
The Notten siblings (Anna and Nick)
won gold in the mixed board relay and Nick then combined with brother Dom,
Matthews and Travis Misdorp to take first place in the beach sprint relay.
Team captain (Nick) Notten raved about
the character of the senior squad in dealing with the setback of losing De
Morny and also the excellent improvements among the juniors over the three
‘What was very encouraging was the
way the junior selections were managed and rotated and it showed in the
results. We learned a lot from the series in terms of selection, which will
only make us stronger at the World Championships and in future competitions,’
coach Shannon Eckstein applauded the improvements from South Africa and said
there has never been complacency from within Australia’s lifesaving community
when it comes to competing against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand.
Zealand always tests us and it is good for the sport that there are several
countries that are testing us,’ said Eckstein.
‘South Africa definitely is
improving and there is a lot of good talent in the South African system.’