“Adventure drama of Spirit and Strength” From the movie “Beyond the River”
April 2017 saw the publication of Piers Cruickshanks’ “Confluence – Beyond the River” with Siseko Ntondini, telling the story of two men from different backgrounds that formed an unlikely partnership.
Cruikshanks, of Dabulamanzi Canoe Club, and Siseko Ntondini, of the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club, won gold against all odds in the 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon.
Described as the true story behind the Heartlines film Beyond the River, screened in Port Elizabeth in April 2017, “Confluence” is very much a South African story.
It tells the uplifting story of their canoe marathon partnership from 2014. Cruickshanks was a seasoned paddler who had won multiple gold medals in the Dusi while Ntondini was a paddler who had come up through the ranks of the Soweto Canoe Club.
Their dream was to win a gold medal in the Dusi, but, in order to get to the starting line, they needed to overcome cultural and physical challenges to create a winning combination.
Beyond the River is loosely based on this true story. In addition to being a dramatic adventure story about the triumph of the human spirit, the film also featured a host of picturesque locations.
Johannesburg born and bred Piers Cruickshanks is as comfortable in a canoe as he is on land. The High School English teacher with more than 18 years teaching experience is currently the Director of Academics at Kingsmead College in Gauteng.
His passion for paddling has taken him all over the world, having represented South Africa on 7 occasions for canoeing at the World Championships and World Cup events; he has also won the Grand Traverse World Sea Kayak Championships in Canada.
Locally, he is somewhat of a canoe legend having won several major races including the Fish River Canoe Marathon, Breede, Vaal, Umkomaas and Orange River Marathons, the non-stop Dusi Canoe Marathon and the SA Championships.
Of particular significance are his ten gold medals for finishing in the top 10 of the Dusi Canoe Marathon; a journey which has led him down an unexpected and life-changing path
Siseko Ntondini was born and raised in the Elias Motsoaledi Informal settlement in Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg in 1993. Like many young people born to circumstances beyond their control, he struggled to see a future for himself in South Africa. That is until he started canoeing in 2006 with the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club (SACRC); founded and supported by ADreach CEO, Brad Fisher.
With his natural talent and extreme dedication Siseko soon began competing professionally, beginning in 2010 when he represented South Africa at the African Championships in Tunisia. The young paddler soon became one of the fastest rising stars in the country’s canoeing fraternity and has since gone on to win numerous titles, including becoming the first black paddler to get a podium place at the Hansa Fish Canoe Marathon, and winning several gold medals at the Dusi Canoe Marathon; considered one of the toughest river races in the world.
Motivated by a fellow paddler at the Dabulamanzi Canoe Club at Emmarentia, Siseko began studying Law at UNISA in 2014 and is currently in his fifth year. He also currently works at ADreach as an admin assistant and has recently been made a brand ambassador for the company; largely due to his inspirational life story, continued striving for success and desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
Siseko continues to represent SCARC and Team Euro Steel in paddling and remains one of the best performing athletes in his field.