University of Johannesburg student Mzwandile Sotsaka joined forces with Brad Betts to win a bronze medal at the FISU World University Championships in China this month.
Conquering the heat of Shanghai, Sotsaka and his Rhodes partner took third place in the gruelling heavyweight men’s doubles race, reward for the hard work they have put in this year.
“Excitement was definitely the dominant feeling once we had crossed the finish line,” said the 22-year-old Sotsaka, who is in his final year of a BSc maths degree.
“Standing on the podium of a world event is every sportsman’s dream and I am privileged enough to have done it.”
Sotsaka, from Hatfield in Pretoria, said you never quite knew what to expect from the FISU World University Rowing Championships.
“Some years you find yourself up against experienced senior crews, and other years you’ll take on quality U23 rowers.
“I was expecting high-calibre competition and that was exactly what we got. Fortunately, we were well prepared.”
The UJ rower said he and Betts clicked as a team.
“Brad is an extremely intelligent person, both on and off the water, and having him as my bowman [the rower closest to the bow who controls the boat] was massive.
“He is sure of himself and always made the right calls to get the boat going quicker.”
Sotsaka, who grew up in Watermeyer in Pretoria, said he was influenced to take up rowing by his older brother, Katlego.
He added that he had had many mentors who had helped him succeed in rowing, but paid a special tribute to Mpumi Geza.
“I will always be indebted to Mpumi, who coached me to my first international medal – he is the unsung hero in South African rowing.
“I’d like to add that I am really grateful for all the support UJ have provided over the years. I would not have been able to do it without them.”