Following a life-changing first three months of 2020, Dusi Canoe Marathon winner and FNB Change a Life Academy star Khumbulani Nzimande is using the current coronavirus lockdown period as a chance to recharge and come out firing into the second half of the year.
Nzimande teamed up with Andy Birkett to paddle to a popular win at the three-day Dusi Canoe Marathon at the end of February and the result catapulted the 24 year-old into the paddling spotlight.
He showed his versatility at the N3TC Drak Challenge where he produced a stunning day two performance to finish fifth overall in some testing conditions on the uMzimkhulu River.
With the current coronavirus lockdown playing havoc with any sort of training regime, Nzimande is using the time to help around the house and get himself aligned for a busy second half of 2020 should racing resume.
“I am helping my father with his five cattle and it has become almost a full-time job because we have to try and keep them healthy,” he said.
“There is also a garden at our house that I am looking after so I am trying to keep as busy as I can. I do try and do some exercise but it is quite difficult with the current situation.”
Andrew Booyens, who coached both Birkett and Nzimande to their Dusi win, has been in touch with the youngster and is trying to make sure that he stays busy during the lockdown.
While there is no certainty on the ending of the lockdown, Nzimande is hoping that he can get back to training soon, something that he is looking forward to.
“I cannot wait to get back in my boat and get back on the water,” he enthused. “I am trying to keep myself motivated during this lockdown.
“The year has started really well for me so I am quite frustrated with the current situation but there is nothing I can do to change that so I need to look forward.
“I would like to do the Berg again this year and then it is the Fish Marathon so there is a lot to focus on.”
Nzimande has completed four Berg’s in his career and knows what comes with the grueling four day race through the Swartland, but sees it as part of a bigger picture.
“If the Change a Life Academy does manage to race the Berg there won’t be too much time to prepare so I might use it as part of my training for the rest of the year.
“The Fish is a race that I enjoy and I want to do well this year in my K1 because Msawenkosi (Mtolo) and I finished eleventh last year in a K2 which was my best result.
“A lot of people don’t like the rapids but I love them and see the Fish as a great way for me to improve my river skills.
“You don’t have to be as fit because of the amount of water but it tests you in other ways,” Nzimande added.
The ambitious youngster is looking even further with the 2021 Dusi Canoe Marathon already on his mind.
“Following in Dusi legend, Sbonelo Kwela’s footsteps, Khumbulani has shown what a whole bunch of hard work, discipline and pushing your limits can achieve,” said Martin Dreyer, Change a Life Academy Founder.
“His recent Dusi victory, has stoked the coals amongst the Change a Life youngsters, that achieving your dreams is possible.”
“I want to improve on my K1 result from last year where I finished fourth,” Nzimande added.
“If I carry on working hard and training hard there is no reason why I can’t push for a podium – that’s the goal for next year’s race,” he mentioned confidently.