Bethlehem Comprehensive High School student Sandile Makubo will be following in the footsteps of the legendary Cyprian Ngidi when he takes part in the upcoming ICF Canoe Slalom & Wildwater Canoeing World Championships in Pau, France this week.
The youngster, who trains with 2008 Beijing Olympian Ngidi at the Dihlabeng Slalom Club, will be taking part in both the Wildwater Sprints and the Canoe Slalom events on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
His Dihlabeng Slalom Club’s training facilities are on the Liebensbergvlei River; however they regularly travel 30km outside of Bethlehem to the Ash River where they train on the consistently big water, however it is still very different from the artificial courses in Europe.
This opportunity to travel to Europe to take part in the world championships came about through the ICF’s Talent Identification Programme (TIP). Makubo was identified as a potential Olympian at the recent South African Slalom Championships and the aim is to get him to compete on the international stage more often.
The programme is completely funded by the ICF as a means to get as many paddlers from developing countries into the sport through the achievements of the selected few that make it on to the programme.
For Makubo this will be his first taste of international competition and the ICF hopes through this sponsorship that he will help act as an ambassador for the slalom discipline in South Africa.
The TIP also works in Olympic cycles so Makubo has been identified as a potential Olympian at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
The 2017 Canoe Slalom and Wildwater Championships is the first dual world champs ever. It will also be the biggest event of its kind with over 500 athletes entered across the multiple disciplines.
Makubo will be racing the C1 in the slalom and wild water and he is the first C1 from South Africa to race at an ICF Wildwater event.
Due to the lack of viable training locations in South Africa programmes like the TIP are critical for our athletes as it gives them the opportunity to race in Europe.
To stand a good chance of qualifying for Tokyo, Makubo will need to be racing in Europe as often as possible as well as training every day on the white water of the Ash River.
Makubo will be racing in the Wildwater heats on Wednesday, 27 September at 17:38 and 18:30 South African time.
His Canoe Slalom heats will be on Thursday, 28 September at 10:32 and 13:12.