Despite being from completely different walks of life, South African athletes Piers Cruickshanks and Siseko Ntondini together competed in one of the most grueling river races.
Not only did they compete, but the pair won gold in the 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon and went on to inspire the story for a local movie.
Their true story is the basis for the 2017 South African film Beyond the River, set to hit the international circuit soon.
Watch the trailer below:
Cruikshanks, of Dabulamanzi Canoe Club, and Siseko Ntondini, of the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club, spoke about their individual life journeys that led them to canoeing.
They also reflected on the joint determination that moved them to conquer, against the odds.
I stumbled across the sport [canoeing]. Having been an athlete, I knew how to train hard. It came quickly for me. I started when I was 21.— Piers Cruickshanks
It was a great journey for me, with amazing experiences.— Piers Cruickshanks
I grew up in an informal settlement and I didn't have soccer skills. I was a naughty boy.— Siseko Ntondini
There was a river next to our place, we weren't allowed to play there but we used to go and hang out there.— Siseko Ntondini
I grew up loving water. For me, canoeing was something nice but it was difficult telling my parents.— Siseko Ntondini
I though it was a white sport and I later realised that it wasn't.— Siseko Ntondini
Siseko was still waiting at the end. As I crossed the finish line, he asked me to paddle with him the following year. That was the start of our partnership and incredible journey.— Piers Cruickshanks
While there was an element of mentorship, what surprised me was how much I learnt from the experience and Siseko directly.— Piers Cruickshanks
Being exposed to from someone from a different background, learning to see things differently and stepping into someone else's shoes.— Piers Cruickshanks
Piers didn't give up on me, he was pushing me. The most amazing thing was going home and showing my parents my achievement.— Siseko Ntondini
I said to myself one day I want to be on the podium. I achieved my goal, that was the most special part for me.— Siseko Ntondini
Cruickshanks has also written a book about their true life adventure, titled Confluence.
Confluence is published by Pan Macmillan and will retail for R209.
Take a listen to the inspiring story and how theirs differs from the film adaptation:
Image: SpotOn Mag.