What a Day for SA

Wow there are few words that can express the level of pride I am feeling tonight. I really am truly grateful that I am part of a team that has each other’s backs in every way.

Today we moved locations and arrived at Shenzou Peninsula for the second half of the ISA World Stand Up and Paddle Board Championships and what a day it turned out to be.

The day focused on the Men’s and Women’s SUP Sprinting events. South Africa had two incredible athletes compete. Kimon Dos Santos started the morning in an extremely tough opening heat and did incredibly well to come in fourth in his heat. Kimon has trained extremely hard and put in the time and focus to improve his rankings in the world and has done very well so far.

Kimon together with Rory Smyth will compete in the men’s long distance race together with Jadon Wessels competing in the Prone distance race. Jadon won a copper medal for the Prone Technical Race on Wednesday this week.

In the women’s sprint race, Tarryn King proceeded to win both her heat and the semi final to proceed to the Women’s Sprint Race Final. Having given birth to her adorable son Koa King last year she was not able to attend Worlds but remained fit and kept training straight after his birth.

Tarryn has worked hard and both her and her Husband Tom King (also competing this year) have fitted training into their jam packed schedules as working parents with a young child. Today all that hard work, training and support from her family, friends and team paid off as Tarryn won Gold for South Africa.

Little Koa King has been a large part of the blessing of this journey. Any mother with a 13 month old child will tell you that kids of this age are busy and can often be niggly or out of sorts when out of their routine. Not this little guy, he has been a laugh a minute and has had the entire team in fits of laughter. He has also managed to steal the hearts of all around him.

The journey with this team of remarkable human beings has been a true blessing in my life and I feel utterly grateful for the experience and look forward to another great day tomorrow. The most important thing in life to do every day is to show up and be the best version of yourself possible. I can honestly say there is not member of this team that has not done that 300%.

#supteamsa #ISAsurfing #worlds

Team Work is Dream Work

The bus ride this morning began as every day has begun thus far with a lot of banter and laughter between the SA and Aussie Team as we headed to a big day of Technical Race Finals, Junior Race Finals and Prone Paddle Board finals.

There was a mixed feeling of anxiety and excitement on the bus as all the Team members prepared themselves mentally for the day. This preparation of course included entertainment from our Team Mascot Koa King and the morning ritual of Baby Shark. It has literally become a song that is stuck in all our minds and we find ourselves humming or singing along.

Both our Junior Team Members Karisa Grace and Henco Scholtz paddled their hearts out against the best juniors in the world and they did incredibly well. Henco Scholtz had one is the quickest race starts I have seen and paddled like a champion. Karisa paddled with great form and consistency and held her ground beautifully. Both athletes excelled and made top 10 in the world which was incredible.

Jadon Wessels our Prone Paddle Board athlete, who has had a particularly stressful lead up to his race with not having his board arrive stepped onto the line on a borrowed board and bolted out of the starting blocks with speed and focus.

This young man paddled with such determination and commitment and with one goal in mind and that was to smash it and bring home a medal. And that is exactly what he did. What an incredible race it was with Jadon at one stage sitting in first position, I literally felt like I was going to have a heart attack.

Next up was the Ladies SUP Technical Final with Tarryn King representing our Team. This was a really tough field again and she paddled an incredible race also coming in the top 10 in the world. It was great to hear one of the race officials say, wow great to see Tarryn King back after being off the scene for a year, she really means business.

I believe that to perform on this level it takes a lot of time, commitment and dedication and often a lot of sacrifice. It is always difficult especially with a sport like SUP as the athletes all need to fund their own way to take part in these competitions. I however am proud to say that being selected as the manager of this group of individuals has been a true honour.

Every single athlete has given every ounce of themselves in this event so far and they are a strong, supportive and humble unit. I look forward to the next few days ahead.

Proudly South African

Today was another great day at the ISA World Stand Up and Paddleboard Championships in Wanning China. I feel so honoured to be part of a team of such incredible Individuals who have literally had each other’s backs at every turn. Part of what I love about being South African is that we really have such Geez as a country. The team spirit has been incredible.

Today was an early start again with all of us up and at breakfast by 6:15am as a united group. We have a great vibe with our Australian fellow competitors and they have been traveling with us to and from the competition venue daily. The morning trips are filled with a lot of laughs and fun banter which is so great.

We have had incredible support and assistance from both the UK and New Zealand teams in helping us with Prone boards to keep Jadon training until (God Willing) we can finally get both his and Kimon’s boards through to the comp.

I don’t know that in being involved with 2 Olympic Games, 1 Olympic Bid, 2 Soccer Worlds Cups, 1 Rugby World Cup and numerous Rock Concert tours and events, I have ever experienced anything like trying to get these boards to us.

That said the rest of the journey has been incredible. Today was the second day for our surfing athletes and they all surfed their hearts out. Matt Maxwell had a great semi final in the main round but unfortunately after a grueling 2nd Heat was knocked out by 2 former gold medalists. This being Matt’s first year out of juniors on his first World Champs he gave it his all and performed very well but was unfortunately knocked out in a very tough heat.

Tom King had a cracker of a heat and managed to score the high heat total honours with a score of 16.36 and stay alive in the repro heats. He had an incredible round with huge Geez and support from the team. The spirits were high and the day ended on a high note.

Tammy and Penny both had great first rounds with Tammy finishing top in her heat and Penny second in hers, however in the next round unfortunately both Penny and Tammy were knocked out by some fierce competition.

Tomorrow we proceed to the next round with Tom King still in with a chance with some strong competitors left in the running.

We have had a great tour with the Team and the athletes have at all times ensured a high level of ethics and conduct and have made the country proud.

Not being a SUP surfer myself I have learnt a lot from our coach on wave choice and the rules of the competition and hope to one day to give the surfing side a go. I look forward to the technical and racing days ahead as the team have trained extremely hard and it’s my personal passion within the sport.

The Journey to Wanning China

Being appointed as the South African Team Manager for the ISA Stand Up and Paddleboard Championships in Wanning China is a huge honour.

Over the last 28 years of my life I have travelled to over 65 countries in the world on various trips and have had many moments that have felt like something out of the movie lost in translation, but I must say our arrival in Hong Kong certainly takes the cake.

Travelling with a large amount of luggage and sporting equipment at any time is challenging and can be stressful but travelling with SUP and Prone Boards that are over 3.6m takes this experience to the next level.

Our first two flights were pretty uneventful and then we arrived 4 hours before our next flight to Haikou from Hong Kong and that’s when the challenges began. We were blessed to get all 8 SUP Surfboards check in within 1 hour BUT then the night mare of getting our one Race Board and Prone Board began. 3 hours of negotiating and trying to communicate with the language barrier we discovered there was no way the boards could get on the plane. Having checked all in advance and sending NUMEROUS emails to check they understood the size we did not win.

Fortunately one of our athletes had a friend in Hong Kong and Dave (coach) and Rory (athlete) stayed on for the night to try and get the boards sorted. It turns out nothing is allowed on the roof racks on cars so we had to hire a Truck to transport the boards to this friends high rise apartment and Dave and Rory had to check into a backpackers for the night.

The nightmare of trying to get these boards here has continued and we are still trying to get the boards here. Being the OCD person I am, I am struggling to understand how there are no pre organised solutions for this as a number of teams have experienced the same issues.

On a positive note there has as in true South African style been loads of laughter and good team spirit regardless. We have not allowed this to dampen the spirits and have been offered a board from the British Team for the Prone Race and are waiting for confirmation from the New Zealand Team on if they are able to let us use their DEEP board for the race which will help our athlete greatly.

All athletes and Teams have been extremely helpful and are doing their best to help us resolve our issue. The first few days consisted of some training, gym sessions and acclimatisation.

Yesterday was the opening ceremony procession across Riyue Bay to the Surf Competition zone. The men’s surfing kicked off with both Tom King and Matt Maxwell proceeding through the Heat to the second round.

As a team we have had a great time with lots of Team Spirit, commitment and very much appreciated support from back home. We look forward to a great day a head with the Women’s Surf and the Men’s next heats.

The Countdown Begins

It has been a while since I last wrote as life has been busy and full of preparation to head to China as part of the #SupTeamSA at the #ISAWorld Standup and Paddle championships. What an honor it is to be part of this incredible Team.

The last few months have been an incredible teaching of what team work and determination is. Each and everyone of these incredible athletes and coaches have put their heads in the game, committed and shown up on every level.

As a sport that does not receive any financial support or assistance from government or any large corporate sponsors it takes a lot of focus to not only train to be ready to compete on an international standard but to raise the funds to get to the World Championships. This Team have done all of this and more.

As someone who lives with a combination of sometimes crippling painful auto immune diseases, being chosen to manage this team and help them get to China has been a true bucket list achievement and I am so utterly blessed to have the opportunity. The last few days have been filled with anxiety as I have had a chest and lung infection and had to rest and get my body energy restored enough to fly.

My prayers have been well and truly answered today as I prepare for my infusion and have sign off from my team of amazing doctors that I am fit to travel. As the saying goes if you believe it you can achieve it and nothing can stop you if your heart and mind are in the game.

So today as the final count down to departure begins I am truly grateful for the journey over the last 6 months and look forward to heading off to the World Championships with an amazing team. As you start your day today all I ask is that you take time to be grateful and thankful for all you DO have in life and let go of the focus on what you don’t have. Remember energy flows where focus goes