In an extraordinary maneuver for 5km without a functional boat rudder, the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Men’s A Team managed to win a bronze medal in Port Alfred during the 2023 University Sport South Africa (USSA) championship. UJ featured three contesting teams against teams from nine other South African universities from 7 to 9 September 2023 at Kowie River.
In another impressive rowing race, the UJ Men’s B Team also clinched a bronze medal having novices in their squad. The UJ Women’s A Team finished just a position shy of one spot to also win a bronze medal, racing to a 4th spot finish after three days of intensive paddling sessions.
On Day 1 of the competition in the heats, the three UJ teams finished in the same spots that they finished in in the finals. The B team concluded their mission in the competition on Friday, 8th September (Day 2) while the A teams finished competing on Saturday (Day 3).
“For the past two years, UJ always pushed to finish on the podium. For some reason, we always finish in 3rd place. This year, the ladies team had three novices and that compromised our chances of finishing in the top spot. The other universities which finished in top three/two had senior and experienced rowers as well as having three teams per institution in comparison to us having one team in each division,” said Louise Basson, UJ Women’s A Team and Cox for both the two A teams.
She added, “I have two impressive highlights from the races; the UJ Men’s B team had novices but they performed really well to finish in 3rd place. It was a highly contested competition, and I think the lads brought their A-game to Port Alfred. The Men’s A team also did very well – they handled the boat breakage extremely well (which happened at the start of the race) having to race for more than 5km down the river. For them to finish in 3rd place not having a functional rudder was good because they had a superb outcome at the end of the race.”
In the Men’s A team, coxed by Louise Basson, were Lyle Swanepoel, Caleb Haydock, Vince Jackson, Dane Walker, Lwazi Zwane, Rudy Bellengere, Daneil Basson and Lindo Ndlovu.
The Men’s B Team, also coxed by Louise Basson, comprised Ayabonga Klaas, Mlibo Ndzamela, Tshepo Mohale, Aphiwe Pono, Quinton Pieterse, Dan Doller, Fhulufhelo Tshivhula, and Lukholo Sibali.
The competition features ten (10) universities such as UJ, University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of Pretoria, University of the Western Cape, Nelson Mandela University, Rhodes University, Fort Hare, Wits University, Walter Sisulu University.
The University of Cape Town Men’s Team was crowned the 2023 USSA Rowing champions while the University of Pretoria Women’s Team were the champions of the competition.