CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s big guns in the surf and beach sand will be in New Zealand for this weekend’s International Surf Rescue Challenge, featuring the sport’s eight best countries.
Hosts New Zealand and trans-Tasman rivals Australia traditionally have dominated the biggest international competitions, but there is a belief that the quality of the SA squad is good enough to place among the medals.
KwaZulu-Natal's Carmel Billson will lead the female challenge in a squad that also includes her very talented sister Lauren Billson. (Carmel) Billson is the 2016 and 2017 General Tire Lifesaving SA female athlete of the Year and has been the most imposing female athlete in the sport in the last two years.
Eastern Province’s Daniel Jones will be hoping to replicate his brilliant performances at the General Tire Lifesaving SA National Championships and SA’s youthful beach sprinters Jonathan Rorke and Bradley Odendaal are strong medal options in the absence of SA’s beach sprint king Ryle de Morny.
Rorke stunned De Morny into second place at the General Tire Nationals in Camps Bay, and Odendaal, dominant in the junior ranks for the past few seasons, excelled at the Sanyo International in Japan.
SA’s still water lifesaving specialists will also be in action at the Orange Cup in the Netherlands this weekend, with the third Billson sister (Natalie) significantly in-form and likely to be at the forefront of SA’s performance.
SA’s teenage male trio of Calvin Coetzee, JP van Zyl and Milan Erasmus this past weekend warmed up for the Orange Cup with excellent results at the International German Cup in Warendorf.
The trio, competing against athletes from 16 countries, combined for six medals, which included one gold, four silvers and a bronze.
KZN's Coetzee, just 17-years-old, started the German Cup with a gold medal in the 200 metres obstacle swim and on the second day won silver in the 100m Rescue Medley, ahead of Van Zyl, who added a bronze to two silver medals, the second of which he won in the 100m Manikin Carry with Fins.
Van Zyl’s first silver was in the 50m Manikin Carry. Erasmus won silver in the 200m Superlife.
The criteria for the German Cup participation was that the athlete had to be under 18 and have placed individually in the top 10 across three events at the General Tire Lifesaving SA still water National Championships.
Team South Africa - Orange Cup, Netherlands
(Men) JP van Zyl (Harties Refection Lifesaving Club, North West), Milan Erasmus (Durban Surf Lifesaving Club, KZN), Calvin Coetzee (Suncoast Pirates Lifesaving Club, KZN), Rudi van Graan (Harties Refection Lifesaving Club, North West)
Women) Natalie Billson (Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, KZN), Bianca Opperman (Harties Refection Lifesaving Club, North West), Sulinke van den Berg (Mangaung Lifesaving Club, Free State), Dehanke van Rensburg (Harties Refection Lifesaving Club, North West), Deborah Dredge (Tuks Lifesaving Club, Gauteng).