Young Alex Masina burst onto the South African canoeing landscape when he won a junior bronze at the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, now the youngster has set his sights on improving on that at the upcoming global marathon showpiece in China in October.
The 21 year-old, has made the move up to the Under 23 age group and showed his worth at the recent South African Marathon Championships in Johannesburg when he finished second in the Under 23 K1 race against a strong field of paddlers.
He then teamed up with Louis Hattingh and finished second in an almost photo-finish with current K2 World Champions Hank McGregor and Andy Birkett to book a K2 spot on the national team for the World Championships.
The Varsity College student, who is studying Corporate Communications, is excited by the prospect of representing South Africa at another World Championships and is feeling confident with three months to go.
“I want to get a top three in the K1 and if I keep training hard and pushing I think that it is possible,” Masina said confidently.
“I felt good at the SA Champs in my K1 and the race proved that I am training well and preparing correctly.
“I have so much respect for my coach Craig Mustard and he has played a huge role in getting me to where I am.”
Despite prioritising the K1 race at the national championships, Masina and Hattingh provided one of the performances of the competition when they nearly pipped the defending K2 world champions.
Masina knows that they will need to put in a huge amount of work if they are to challenge for a medal in the K2 at the World Championships.
“We only did three sessions together before the SA Champs but we paddled really well and it was such an exciting race.
“Luckily for us we do train together at Camps Drift so we will definitely be putting in just as much work in our K2 as I will be putting in in my K1!” he added.
Masina’s fascination with canoeing prompted a huge leapt of faith when he left his home in Daviton to move to Pietermaritzburg to be closer to the hub of elite paddlers in 2017. It was a move made possible by a handful of supporters that shared his enthusiasm for what the sport could do for him.
“Ian Walker has been a huge help. He covers my accommodation costs and pays for half of my studies.
“He is the main reason that I can paddle and I am grateful for his contribution.
“Cameron Mackenzie sponsors my groceries which is also a huge help.
“Then my coach Craig Mustard is such an important person for me because he is also a good friend, and I have huge respect for him,” an appreciative Masina mentioned.