The two-member South African slalom team of Don Wewege and Cameron Wells are in the final stages of preparations as they ready themselves to take on the best in the world at the 2014 ICF Slalom World Championships being held in Maryland, United States from 17-21 September.
The four-time South African slalom champion Wewege and Wells who will both take part in the K1 discipline with the former discarding the C1 discipline to focus fully on the K1 category with the Olympic qualifiers looming in 2015.
Wewege has been in Deep Creek for a few weeks with the ICF Talent Identification Development programme and having been able to paddle on the river he feels his preparations have been good for the upcoming World Championships despite a hiccup during tripping.
“Preparations have gone really well,” Wewege said. “I have now been on the course for two weeks and have enjoyed every minute of it!
“I am paddling a new boat for the event as I broke my one tripping on the Savage River on the third day but I have adapted really well to it,” an upbeat Wewege added.
Having been in the United States for two weeks already Wewege feels that he has had enough time to adapt to the conditions but explained that adapting was not too difficult considering the conditions were not too dissimilar to those in South Africa.
“Weather wise it is about the same is SA which is great as it wasn’t too bad with adapting.
“We train on the same rapid but the gates and the moves change every day. We will only know the official course the day of the race and there are no practice runs so the pre-event training is vital.
“It is a very physical course here and pacing will be a key factor in the race,” a clearly focused Wewege mentioned.
The 2014 World Championships will be the second trip for the 20-year-old and he placed a lot of emphasis on producing some solid runs in the heat stages of the contest and has set himself a place in the semi-final as the ultimate goal for the event.
“My aim is to have two good clean runs in the heats that are both consistent with my level. Position wise I am aiming for a top 50 but a semi-final (top 40) would be even better!
“The competition is really tough with all the big nations fielding the 3 strong boats in every class,” the Pietermaritzburg resident mentioned.
Although weather conditions are similar to back home Wewege was quick to point out the difficulties of the course that they will be racing on. He will have to play to his strengths on the course however he feels that his all-round ability is improving as a result of the chance that ICF have given him.
“The course is very tough and technical. It is a constant grade 3+ stretch of white water for 320m so really tough physically.
“My strengths definitely lie in my fitness and forward speed as I come from a marathon racing background so I will need to draw on that during my runs.
“My technical aspects have improved every year largely with thanks to the ICF’s Talent Identification program which has assisted me with the world champs for the last two years,” a grateful and determined Wewege concluded.
Team South Africa will be in action on Thursday with Wells racing at about 16:50 (SA time) as the first paddler to go in the K1 men class and again at 21:30 with Wewege racing at about 17:05 and 21:45 and around the 16th athlete to go.
The event can be followed live at www.deepcreek2014.com as well as at www.youtube.com/user/CanoeKayakTV.