Following his giant-killing third place performance at last year’s N3TC Drak Challenge presented by FNB Siseko Ntondini has made a last minute call that he will race the 2020 edition of the two-day Southern Drakensberg classic this weekend.
Ntondini showed quality all-round river skills to finish on the podium ahead of many of the country’s top river marathoners at last year’s Drak Challenge but feels that he won’t be near that level come the race this weekend.
“I have been finishing off my studies and I start my article in Sandton soon so paddling and training have taken a back-seat recently,” the Euro Steel star said. “I wasn’t going to come down and paddle the Drak but I managed to find a lift so I made the decision in the last few days to come down and race.”
Ntondini has been a shining light for paddlers from Gauteng for a number of years and despite his eleventh-hour decision to take on the Drak he thinks it is going to be an important race for him.
“I need to get some racing time under my belt and the Drak is going to be important for me looking to the Dusi at the end of the month.
“I will be paddling Dusi with Spanish paddler Ivan Alonso and he wants a top ten and has been training hard so the Drak will give me a good work-out. I am hoping that I can come away with a top ten this weekend.”
Ntondini has completed his law degree but he says that he has tried to keep fit despite the pressures of exams.
“I have been running a lot so from that perspective I am fit but I haven’t had a lot of time in the boat at all so I am going to have to do some catching up.
“I am not going to be putting any pressure on myself at the Drak and will look to have a clean race and enjoy it as much as I can.
“If I can finish in the top ten then I will be very happy given my preparation for the race,” he expressed.
Ntondini’s impressive third in 2019 showed a steady upward progression after returning previous results of a fifth and a tenth in 2016.
The N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB canoe marathon takes place in Underberg on 1 and 2 February 2020.