Don Wewege grabbed his fifth back-to-back national K1 slalom title at the Dihlabeng Mall SA Slalom Canoe Championships on the Ash River in the Eastern Free State as drama-laced action determined the make-up of the podium.
Wewege, who’s primary focus this year is trying to secure qualification for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games next year, held off a gallant charge from Dihlabeng youngster Success Mahlaba, who in turn held off Maritzburg College schoolboy Brandon Orpwood in third.
“The standard of competition was very high this year and the quality of paddling from the paddlers at the local Dihlabeng club was exceptional,” said Wewege (Maxpaddle/SecondSkins), a product of the KZN Elite Athlete Development Programme.
In the showdown for the Men’s K1 title, on a course set by veteran slalom paddler Cameron McIntosh, Orpwood threw down the gauntlet with a fast time but burdened himself with three two-second penalties for gate touches.
That left the door open for Mahlaba, who scorched down the course in the days fastest time, but in the process picked up four gate-touch penalties. Wewege was able to snatch the gold medal by completing the course with one less gate-touch.
“It’s exciting to win the national title again, but more importantly I was happy with the form I showed, especially in the semi-final,” said Wewege. “That is the sort of form I am going to need when it comes to trying to qualify later in the year.”
The Dihlabeng club dominated in the C-boat classes, which unusually rivaled the K1 class in total number of entries.
Olympian Lindelani “Cyprian” Ngidi, who is also the coach at Dihlabeng, showed his class with a final run that was blemished by just one gate touch, with clubmate Nteo Mokhutu taking the silver medal and Wewege earning the C1 bronze to go with his K1 gold medal.
Nteo Mokuthu and Jabulani Mofokeng combined to win the national C2 title for the host Dihlabeng club.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
DIHLANBENG MALL SA SLALOM CHAMPIONSHIPS
Pos Athlete Time (Penalties) Total
1 Don Wewege 88.55 (6) 94.55
2 Success Mahlaba 88.07 (8) 96.07
3 Brandon Orpwood (U18) 91.93 (6) 97.93
4 Moses Mokoena 122.25 (4) 124.25
5 Thabo Moloi 115.43 (12) 127.43
Pos Athlete Time (Penalties) Total
1 Lindelani Ngidi 124.92 (2) 126.92
2 Nteo Mokhutu 117.51 (10) 127.51
3 Don Wewege 96.80 (50) 146.80
4 Jabulani Mofokeng 112.40 (102) 214.40
5 Sandile Makhubo 163.46 (54) 217.46
6 Mahlomolo Musa 166.33 (152) 318.22
1 Nteo Mokuthu/Jabulani Mofokeng 167.15 (206) 373.15
DIHLABENG MALL SPONSPORS THE 2015 SA SLALOM CANOE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Bethlehem, Free State
In a pursuit to increase its social responsibility and community outreach, Dihlabeng Mall took hands with the Dihlabeng Slalom Club over the Easter Weekend to host the Dihlabeng Mall SA Slalom Canoe Championships 2015 on the Ash river near Clarens.
On 3 and 4 April, the Free State was represented by a strong 8-man team from the Dihlabeng Slalom Club spearheaded by Olympian Lindelani Ngidi, entering 9 boats in the Kayak, Canoe and Double Canoe classes. Mokuthu and Mofokeng from the Free State team entered the only boat in the Double Canoes category, putting them – quite literally – in a class of their own.
Kwazulu-Natal was represented by two juniors, Raymond “Umlilo WaseNatal” Radebe and Brandon Orpwood, and the senior, Don Wewege. Entering four boats in total, all three athletes took part in the Kayak class and Wewege also entered the Canoe class.
For the first time in the history of the South African Championships there were as many Canoe as Kayak entries. The Free State almost made a clean sweep of the podium in the Canoe class but were denied by Wewege who took the Bronze. Ngidi stole the Gold position by less than a second from fellow Dihlabeng Canoe Club member, Ntoe Mokutu.
The premium event, the Kayak class, was a closely fought battle. Orpwood laid down a fast time of 91 seconds which would have awarded him the title but unfortunately a time penalty of 6 seconds cost him dearly and finally awarded him a bronze medal. This misfortune opened the door for Success Mahlaba to achieve his goal of winning the South African Championships for the first time since he first picked up a Slalom paddle in 2006. With Mahlaba’s blistering time of 88 seconds, the fastest of the day, the dream was not out of reach but sadly Mahlaba received a whopping 8 seconds in penalties which finally shut the door to victory for Mahlaba and the Dihlabeng team. Wewenge, with 4 seconds in penalties and just over one second short from Mahlaba, had the privilege of cracking open the champagne cork at the end of the race, claiming yet another SA Championships title for KZN.
“It was a pleasure for Dihlabeng Mall to sponsor this event and more importantly to get to know the members of the Dihlabeng team and hear their background stories.”, says Marzanne Slabbert, Marketing Manager of Dihlabeng Mall. “It is incredible to think that with very little resources, these athletes rise above their challenges to compete with the best in the country and in some instances they even go on to compete against the best in the world. One can only imagine what these dedicated athletes could achieve, if given some of the privileges and facilities that their professional counterparts are exposed to abroad. By sponsoring the 2015 SA Slalom Championships, Dihlabeng Mall, was able to give back to a community that has embraced the Mall and made it their shopping destination of choice.” concluded Slabbert.
071 609 3000