Quinton Shabalala won the Mens 30-34 Board Final at the Lifesaving South Africa National Championships. Photo: topfoto.net
Quinton Shabalala won the Mens 30-34 Board Final at the Lifesaving South Africa National Championships. Photo: topfoto.net

CAPE TOWN – Veterans Bruce Darbyshire Robert and Ant Foster made the most wonderful of statements on the opening day of the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Championships in Port Elizabeth.

Lifesaving’s premier extravaganza, which brings together 1700 of the country’s athletes from more than 40 clubs, incorporates the Masters, Nippers, Seniors and Juniors in the surf and pool championships respectively.

The Masters always takes pride of place on the first day of the seven-day festival of lifesaving, and in the female category, aged 30-34, Summerstrand’s Natalie Goedhuls flourished in two first places in the run/swim/run and the single ski and two second places in the board race and surf swim.

Tracy Gouws, magnificent a year ago, was equally impressive in 2019, in winning the surf swim, board race, and swim/run/swim. She also finished third in the single ski to add to Summerstrand’s imposing presence on the Masters’ podium in so many age categories.

The Masters’ starts in category age 30-34 and finishes age 70-plus.

 Sihle Trevor Xaba of Durban Surf Lifesaving Club finishes his ski race in the 40-44 years age group Single Ski Race. Photo: topfoto.net
Sihle Trevor Xaba of Durban Surf Lifesaving Club finishes his ski race in the 40-44 years age group Single Ski Race. Photo: topfoto.net

Which brings us to Foster and Darbyshire-Roberts, who got the biggest cheer in showing that age is just a number.

Forster, competing in the 70-plus category, was the most active of athletes in his category, finishing in three disciplines.

Sihle Trevor Xaba of Durban Surf was a popular finisher in the ski race, aged 40-44. Xaba, a television actor in the Durban Beach Rescue series, showed he could transfer his on-screen skills to the water.

Durban Pro’s Siyanda Ngexe finished first in the 30-34 run/swim/run.


Other veterans who enjoyed success included Summerstrand’s Rob Smith, Kings Beach Terry Billson,Ken Richard, Christian Callebaunt, Andre van Rooyen, Antje Hockley, Brent Challenor, Nina Loftus, Gina McCelland and the Ethekwini duo of Mluleki Mthethwa and Mfana Mkhizi.

The surf action stays at Kings Beach today when the Nippers compete for glory until Wednesday. The Masters, Seniors and Juniors take to the pool from today and also finish on Wednesday. 

Siyanda Ngexe of the Durban Pro Lifesaving Club took out the win in the Mens 30-34 Run, Swim, Run.Photo: topfoto.net
Siyanda Ngexe of the Durban Pro Lifesaving Club took out the win in the Mens 30-34 Run, Swim, Run.Photo: topfoto.net

The week’s proceedings reach a climax with the seniors and juniors surf championship from Thursday to Saturday. 

The Nippers will complete their pool championship during the same time.

@mark_keohane