Teenage Canoeist Nosipho Mthembu Has Achieved many Firsts in South African Canoeing And Wants To Be An Olympic Canoeist By Cheryl Roberts

9 Apr

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Teenage Canoeist Nosipho Mthembu from Shongweni in KZN, has completed, from start to finish, three successive Dusi Canoe marathons, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. She also represented South Africa at the 2019 African Games where she won a senior team gold medal and participated in the 2019 Junior canoeing championship in China where she learned much more about international canoeing. Whilst on a post-matric gap year, before enrolling for tertiary studies in 2021, Nosipho is concentrating fully on her canoeing with daily training schedules on Shongweni Dam. In this Q and A interview with ‘South African SportsWoman’ Publisher, Cheryl Roberts we are more informed about Nosipho Mthembu’s participation in canoeing and her canoeing ambitions.


Q: How did you start participating in canoeing?

Nosipho Mthembu: I followed my friends after my family told me to do some sports like karate and when I got to the dam I did some learning about canoeing and that is where I was hooked. I fell in love with canoeing.

Q: Tell us more about your training schedule as a junior canoeist.
Nosipho Mthembu: When I was a junior I used to train with the other junior paddlers on Shongweni dam. Our coach used to give us hard training and sometimes we would go train at Blue Lagoon in Durban city to also train there with another coach.

Q: What have you achieved as a junior canoeist? And your biggest achievement?
Nosipho Mthembu: My biggest achievement was going to China for the World Junior Marathon in 2019. I am the first black girl to qualify for the worlds. And I’ve also been to Morocco for African Games and won team gold there where I was in a k4 with Bridgett Hartley, Donna Hutton and Esti Van Tonder. I was nominated for the SA sports awards in 2016 and also qualified to go to Namibia for canoe polo.
I have also won the KwaZulu-Natal Natal Canoeing awards for many times as the best junior or guppy of the year.

Q: How do you feel being the only black girl most times participating in competitive canoe races?
Nosipho Mthembu: It doesn’t feel good and I would like more black girls to be in canoeing because many black girls are out there are doing wrong things instead of committing themselves to the positives of being in sports.

Q: What events do you compete in as a canoeing competitive? Sprints and marathon?
Nosipho Mthembu: I do all events from sprints to marathons.

Q: Who supports you in canoeing?
Nosipho Mthembu: Its KwaZulu-Natal Canoeing for everything, equipment etc, Gara paddles for paddles, Canoeing SA, KZN Sports and Recreation and I also get support from my family and my coaches. I am very appreciative and grateful to all who help me in canoeing.

Q: What else do you do besides canoeing?
Nosipho Mthembu: I’m upgrading my matric subjects and thinking of joining a running club but haven’t found one yet. I definitely want to tertiary studies in 2021.

Q: What canoeing events in the world are you hoping to race?

Nosipho Mthembu: Olympics and world sprints.

Q: Soon you will be a senior canoeist. What ambitions have you set as a senior canoeist?
Nosipho Mthembu: I’m already a senior; am turning 19 yrs old this year. So I’ll be racing with the u23’s; not exactly a senior but I’m nearly there and no more a junior.
I want to go to Norway this year for World Marathon again and also for world sprints. I’ve also started training hard.

Q: I have seen your mother at all three Dusi canoe marathons, supporting and celebrating you at the finish. Tell us more about your mother’s support of your canoeing.
Nosipho Mthembu: All I can say is that she’s very supportive of me in canoeing. My mother has always supported me in sport even when I started playing soccer and karate, she used to support me there. She loves sport and can even stop her personal things just to go to the races and watch us.

Q: Your favourite dam and river for canoeing?
Nosipho Mthembu: I prefer training at Shongweni dam and Blue Lagoon and for racing I like the Dusi river. But then again, I have no choice because we don’t choose where to race.

Q: What music do you like?
Nosipho Mthembu: I listen to all genres of music except jazz.

Q: Your role models, mentors, most admired in canoeing?
Nosipho Mthembu: My role model for canoeing is champion canoeist Bridget Hartley, my mentors are my family and my coaches. Fortunately, for me in canoeing is that as a black girl, I am helped a lot and canoeing takes me places.

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