Sport24, in partnership with DHL and Lifesaving SA, previews the athletes likely to make a splash in the surf or sizzle on the sand at the 2022 DHL Lifesaving National Club Championships in Gqeberha from 20-26 March.
Ryle de Morny, the most celebrated South African male lifesaving athlete in the history of the sport, will be in Gqeberha this week to showcase his talents, although his participation comes with a forewarning that he is not going to necessarily be at his potent best.
De Morny’s talents extend beyond dominating the sprint and flag lifesaving scene, with several acting gigs and other television shows demanding his time in the past year.
Nevertheless, the man who no one dares write off as yesterday’s news will be competing in the colours of Durban Surf, in the sprints and flags, against some of his best and oldest mates in the sport.
De Morny made his name competing for False Bay but a few years ago he and his champion flags team took up an offer to be Durban Surf for purposes of the National Championships.
Among those teammates is Chevan Clarke, who in 2021 got the better of De Morny at the National Champs and also represented Team South Africa at the 2022 African Lifesaving Championships, where he claimed silver in the flags.
De Morny has over the course of his career won everything there is to win in the sport, in South Africa and internationally. He is a multiple-winning South African champion, king of the African continent and also world champion.
If he has decided to pitch up, know that it is because he believes he can still take gold in the flags and sprints. De Morny isn’t the type of athlete who makes up numbers.
Clarke will have to be at his best to triumph.
Carmel Billson is another who will be at the Nationals after taking some time out in the past two years. Billson traditionally dominated the female categories, but in her absence several wonderfully talented athletes have progressed out of the junior ranks to excel in the open division.
The most prolific of them in 2021 was Amica de Jager, who was named female surf athlete of the National Championships in 2021.
De Jager was rampant in the surf competition and also featured regularly on the podium in the pool event.
Teenagers Tatum Botha and Naor Lombard are also expected to be among the medals, while Kings Beach’s brother and sister duo Keegan and Chelsey Cooke will fly the local flag.
Summerstrand won the overall competition in 2021, thanks primarily to their imposing Nippers, while Tuks took the pool title and Clifton won the open and junior surf title.