Donovan Wewege bagged a fourth successive national slalom crown on the weekend when he topped the results at the South African Slalom Canoeing Championships held at the Motocross weir on the uMsundusi River on Sunday.
The 20 year old Pietermaritzburg student showed the deft touches and skills from years of campaigning as South Africa’s top slalom paddler both locally and at international level as he posted a fast, clean second run of 39 seconds that clearly set him apart from the rest of his challengers.
Maritzburg College schoolboy Brandon Orpwood, Wewege’s training partner, finished second overall and took the junior title, with Murray Starr securing the last place on the overall podium.
The win cemented Wewege’s status as the country’s best hope in this vital Olympic discipline, as he and Orpwood plan to extend their campaign abroad to further their international experience.
“We just don’t race enough,” said Wewege after wrapping up the Canoeing South Africa gold medal for the fourth time in succession.
“While this course was fun, and we made it pretty tricky, the courses that we race on at World Cups and World Championships are so different, and getting experience on that sort of water is a challenge,” said Wewege.
He started the day racing in a C1 configuration single canoe, after dabbling in this unique discipline for a number of weeks, before converting to a K1 for the national championships.
“By entering as a C1 there is a chance of getting more racing in during internationals because the fields are somewhat smaller, and being keen to get as much experience as possible at the highest level, racing a C1 will probably get me two extra runs at a major international,” he explained.
Epworth matric schoolgirl Camilla Pennefather retained her national women’s K1 title, with Orpwood taking the junior boys title from Michaelhouse schoolboy Brandon Macleod.
Kloof stalwart Nigel Briggs topped the Masters age group from John Evans.
The event was held at the Grimthorpe Motocross weir course after low water on the planned Umkomaas river venue forced the organisers to shift the competition to the city training ground on the uMsundusi river, which was running at a good medium level for the event.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – SA Slalom Canoe Championships
JUNIOR SHORT COURSE