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The Hansa Powerade Dusi canoe marathon has been widely regarded as a shining example of transformation in sport in South Africa after a development programme which was started in the early 1990s to promote the sport and the race in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, is starting to bear fruit.
The late Robert Lembethe was credited with starting the first development club at Nagle Dam and the results have been astounding.
In the 2005 race Loveday Zondi made history when he became the first black paddler to ever have a podium finish, while Michael Mbanjwa finished sixth.
To put this incredible result into perspective - it was only eight years ago that history was made by Mbanjwa when he became the first black paddler to pace in the top 50 across the line!
In 2007 Mbanjwa exploded into second place in a singles boat and the South African canoeing pundits are punting him and six times Dusi winner, Martin Dreyer, as possible winners of the 57th edition of the race next week.
"Robert Lembethe stopped me on the way to a game of soccer in 1997 and said that I should try canoeing,"said Valley of a Thousand Hills local, Michael Thulani Mbanjwa
"We used to watch paddlers in the valley, but I never thought that I would end up doing the sport. I never ever thought that I would be tipped as a possible winner."
Mbanjwa, together with teammate Dreyer, could well be on the way to making Dusi history if they win the race in January. "I am in the best shape of my life," continued Mbanjwa. "I really think Martin and I can make history. I just hope all goes well on the day".
Mbanjwa will have support as the Dusi is a "home race" for him having been born and raised in the shadow of Table Mountain near the first night stop of the Dusi. Ray de Vries, spokesman for the Dusi, tips Mbanjwa and Dreyer as "possible" winners. - Sapa