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Back You are here: Home Sports Other Surf Lifesaving: Westville scholar aims to make global surf lifesaving history
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 19:40

Surf Lifesaving: Westville scholar aims to make global surf lifesaving history

Westville Boys’ High School pupils Paul van Achterbergh has his sights set solely on making history later this week when he tackles the South African Surf Lifesaving Championships from 21-23 March at Addington Beach and looks to become only the third person globally to win both the junior and senior men’s Iron man titles at a national champs.

VonAchterbergh1The young Marine Surf Lifesaving Club member claimed victory in the race’s junior section last year when he strung together a remarkable swim, board, ski performance which saw him make the top step of the podium his own before going on to gain senior national colours and representing South Africa at the senior World Surf Lifesaving Champs later that same year.

Since then van Achterbergh has put in even more work though, particularly on his weaker of the three disciplines – surfski – in preparation for his efforts later this week and is determined to do even better in 2013.

“It’s certainly not going to be easy,” admitted van Achterbergh. “There are some really good guys that will be there this year but I definitely do believe that I can do it. I’ve worked really hard recently because I knew a while ago that it was going to take a lot of hard work.”

“It will be all about how quickly I can recover between events, which is something I’ve been working quite a bit on and hopefully the schedule doesn’t change too much so that I have a bit of time between events.

“It really would be awesome if I was able to do it, not just to be able to make history but to be able to prove to myself that it is possible as well as!

The feat of winning both the senior and junior men’s Iron man titles at the same national championships is one that only ever been achieved by two others in the history of surf lifesaving around the world.

South Africa’s very own Oscar Chalupsky became the first ever to achieve the incredible feat when he claimed both titles at the South African national champs in 1980 and the local surfski legend was then closely followed by Australian Grant Kenny who achieve the same feat at the Australian national champs at Maroochydore Beach just a month later.

With Chalupsky having also attended Westville Boys’ High School some years ago van Achterbergh feat, should he in fact go on to achieve the remarkable accomplishment, will itself be a world record as the school becomes the first in the world ever to boast two athletes to have achieved the unique accolade.

“I’ve put in a huge amount of training recently. I’ve done on average about sixty hours of swimming a week, I’ve really worked hard on the ski side of things and I’ve also done a bit more Iron man specific training each week.

“I’ve also looked to try work on the smaller details such as the start and staying with the guys around the can because it’s those things which are key to doing well at senior level and if you’re on top of them they really help a lot!

With the likes of South Africa’s most decorated surf lifesaver Matt Bouman and members of the national defending champs Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club all eager to make the both the senior and junior titles their own, van Achterbergh undoubtedly will have his work cut out for him over the course of the next three days.

“Nic Notten has been going really well in the juniors and is definitely one to watch there whilst Matt Bouman and Jaydn Alford-Loots are probably the biggest threats in the senior race.

“I’ve gotten a lot better myself though since I’ve been training a whole lot harder so we’ll just have to see.

The 2013 South African Surf Lifesaving Championships are hosted by Marine Surf Lifesaving Club and take place from Thursday 21 March to Saturday 23 March at Addington Beach with the South African Masters Surf Lifesaving Championships having preceded the event on Wednesday 20 March.

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