The Eastern Cape’s Joshua Voight won sprint gold at the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Nippers Championships yesterday, but KwaZulu-Natal took the overall title for being the best in the surf and on the Kings Beach sand.
The Interprovincial Championship provided the appetiser to festivities for the next three days as more than 800 of LifeSaving South Africa’s finest Nippers compete in the National Interclub Championships at Kings Beach.
Voight won the U13 Beach Flags and Sprint, but the day belonged to the dominant youngsters from KwaZulu-Natal, and, in particular, the Durban Surf Lifesaving Club.
Lifesaving South Africa president Dylan Tommy welcomed mayor Athol Trollip and thanked the city of Port Elizabeth for the support of the Nippers.
He also commended the Kings Beach organising committee and emphasised the role sponsors General Tire played in ensuring the growth of the sport’s profile and the three-year investment into LifeSaving South Africa.
General Tire sponsorship head Niel Langner, who is the marketing manager of Continental Tyre South Africa (CTSA), applauded the 800-plus Nippers as being among the heroes of society.
He encouraged them to give of their best but not to lose sight of the fact that simply by being in the Nippers programme they were already winners.
“The competition is important to keep your skills honed and just by being in Port Elizabeth and participating you are helping to raise the standards. We will celebrate with you and look forward to our long road together,” Langner said.
“The future of Lifesaving SA is healthy when I see the talent, enthusiasm and passion from ages eight to 14. And this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the commitment and attitude of the parents and guardians of these incredible young boys and girls.’
Langner, in explaining the commitment to Lifesaving South Africa, said: “Being in the tyre business means I am also in the life saving business. By educating people, especially young people, to be smart on the road or in the water, we can prevent the loss of life.
“Lifesaving South Africa needs your passion for saving lives. You are the real life heroes who are making a difference in the lives of fellow South Africans.’
LSA president Tommy also reminded the Nippers to add to the ethos on the National Interclub Championship.
“Have fun in the sun and make lifelong friends. It is very important to the management of Lifesaving South Africa that all of you compete with a spirit of sportsmanship and fair play,” Tommy said.
The young athletes tested each other’s athletic abilities in the surf and on the sand, and Durban Surf’s prominence was obvious.
Durban Surf took first, second and third in the U13 female run/swim/run, with Tatum Botha leading the charge.
The U13s of Durban Surf made it female/male gold in the run/swim/run, with winner Chad Uys beating Suncoast Pirates’s Adam Chislett into second place.
Tatum is the sister of Connor Botha, who a week ago won the U15 junior male athlete overall title in Camps Bay. Their father, Dylan, is a former national team champion.
Fish Hoek’s Hannah Pearse won gold in the U14 female run/swim/run, with East London’s Madison Malherbe second and Kings Beach’s Monique du Toit third.
Durban Surf were back to winning ways in the U14 male run/swim/run with victory to Simon Taylor and bronze to Josh Hook.
Umhlanga’s Connor Buck took silver.