Up and coming slalom paddlers Don Wewege and Brandon Orpwood have made history by becoming the first South African paddlers to race into the semi-finals of the ICF Junior and Under-23 World Championships.
Paddling on the demanding 300-metre long manmade Olympic course at Penrith outside Sydney in Australia, Wewege from UKZN in Pietermaritzburg finished 36th in the Men’s K1 U23 and Orpwood from Maritzburg College (pictured right) finished 34th in Junior Men K1.
The scores are taken as the best of two runs in the heats, and have advanced both men to the semi-final stages for the first time, which start at 2am South African time on Friday morning for Wewege (Second Skins/Maxpaddle) and in the junior ranks at 2am on Saturday morning for Orpwood (Maritzburg College).
Unusually, Wewege will be back on the water later in the week attempting to paddle into the men’s C1 semi-finals well.
“It is a little easier to get into the C1 (kneeling class kayak) semi-finals but it is all about getting as much time and experience on the water during big international competitions,” said Wewege.
“The course is a tough one, with some very unique technical features that will be game breakers on race day,” said Wewege.
“Due to the lack of such world class facilities in South Africa, we have been hard at work to try and get as much time on the water in,” he added.
Both athletes are part of the International Canoe Federation’s Talent Identification program and are provided with some of the world’s best coaches while in Australia to help them achieve high results
Picture: Dave Macleod (Gameplan Media)