From rowing to chess, UCT athletes shine

02 September 2016 | Story by Newsroom
Zane Weir (left) and Tanya Scott hauled UCT to 11th spot at the recent FASU Games.
Zane Weir (left) and Tanya Scott hauled UCT to 11th spot at the recent FASU Games.

Kyle Schoonbee will represent SA Universities at the 14th World University Rowing Championship in Poznan, Poland, from 2 to 4 September. Schoonbee has been a part of UCT's hugely successful rowing teams for years, and the selection comes after he was awarded the SA University full colours in 2014.

He is one of many UCT athletes who've done spectacularly well in recent times.

In water polo, a school of UCT players have been selected for various South African national teams.

Julian Lewis and Nick Schooling were called up to the men's open team; Amber Penney and Lauren Nixon were called up to the ladies' open team and Carina Lategan was selected for the ladies' U18 team.

Playing as goalkeeper, Lategan was first selected for a national team at the end of her Grade 11 year, and has been a regular in the national set-up since then. Unfortunately, the first-year medical student had to withdraw from the national team for the Tri-Nations Cup and World Youth Championships in December this year because training camps and tournaments are often during term time.

“I am a year ahead of most of my age mates academically,” says Lategan. “Studies are my first priority. I plan on continuing to play for UCT for as long as possible.”


Back on terra firma, another medical student captained the SA U21 hockey team at the Junior Africa Cup in Namibia in March. Bjorn Sorenson, who also captained UCT's men's hockey team, has been named as a reserve for the SA U21 Junior World Cup men's team, which takes place in India this December. Walter Pfaff will also be on the plane to India.

A swathe of UCT students were selected for various provincial hockey teams.

Anton Loggenberg made the WP senior men's team, while Brandon Hanekom, Kevin Venter, Matthew Becker and Tim Welsch made the Western Province B senior men's team. Kirsten Seale and Rosie Lombard were picked for the WP senior women's team.

Underwater hockey

Now, combining the pool and hockey turf, Roxanne Walmsley played for the South African elite women's underwater hockey team as they dominated the CMAS World Underwater Hockey Tournament in March and April this year.

Playing against 13 countries, Walmsley and co didn't lose a single match. Having beaten New Zealand 4–3 in the final, they will hold the title of world champions for the next two years. Playing as a left-forward, Walmsley was South Africa's top scorer.

“The final against New Zealand was gruelling,” says Walsmley. “This is the first time SA has won the world championships since 1998. Our team did really well throughout the tournament. We scored the highest goal average of 53 goals across each pool and did not lose a game.”

She started playing when she was six years old, having been born into an underwater hockey-playing family.

“What I love most about the sport is the type of people who play it,” says Walmsley. “It's also pretty cool having to hold your breath every time you want to get involved and help your team score.”

The accounting student admits it's a challenge to balance training and studying, but she still has mighty ambition.

“I'm aiming to play for the Amazons, the best women's team in the world, one day.”

Track and field

UCT athletes won two medals at the 2016 FASU Games held at the University of Johannesburg during the July vacation. Zane Weir (shot put, gold) and Tanya Scott (800m, bronze) were UCT's sole representatives, but UCT still managed to finish 11th on the athletics medals table and 16th overall. Scott also finished 4th in the 5 000 m, but withdrew from the 10 000 m due to a severe cold.

Fun at USSA

UCT netballers Fortuna Bagula, Petra de Abreu and Phumi Shandu were selected for the Premier League Dream Team after helping UCT to 8th place at the University Sports South Africa (USSA) netball tournament in July.

Dream Teams are selected when there are no national or international competitions the following year, but they also serve to note players that excelled at the tournament.

After USSA, Yeukai Chamba was selected for the Western Province Netball Federation's senior A team, and is currently competing with the team at the Spar National Senior and U21 Championships.

UCT's squash players also did themselves proud at USSA. The women's first team finished 5th out of 13 teams; the men's first team placed 3rd out of 13 teams; the UCT second team was runner-up in their section; and UCT won the Mike Gardiner Memorial Best Spirit Award.

Kervin Prayag of UCT was awarded the most improved men's player in the USSA badminton tournament, as UCT claimed 2nd place in the B section.

UCT's cyclists also claimed 2nd place after racing against nine institutions in the A section.

The men's basketball team placed a creditable 4th out of 16 teams. On the football pitch, Xolisa Makubalo was selected for the USSA U21 team that participated in the SAB U21 Championships, and Bryan Donaldson was picked for the SA Universities Football team that played at the CUSCA Games in Zimbabwe in August.

Chante Caesar and Gabriel Hendriksz also competed at the CUSCA Games, as part of the SA Universities chess team.

The rugby team snagged one win out of three at USSA, beating Central University of Technology 31–22. The Ikeys went down 12–47 to the University of Johannesburg and 0–30 to Free State's Kovsies.

Story Yusuf Omar. Photo James Evans.

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