BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
It’s been barely a year and a half since 13-year-old athlete Danielle Kaschula decided to try her hand at rowing.
And already it appears like the two are a match made in heaven.
In the last three months Kaschula has won four international competitions including a record-breaking effort at the Canadian virtual Indoor Rowing Championships last weekend.
Kaschula’s feat — where she competed in the Under-19 500m race and won — earned her an invitation to the World Indoor Rowing Championships scheduled for February 24.
Her story sounds like it was ripped from the pages of a fairy-tale volume.
“Danielle has been rowing since the third term of Grade 7 (that is 2019), so it has been a year and a half now. Her dream is to go to the Olympics and experience the real-life thrill and excitement of being there and competing at that level and hopefully win gold at the Olympics,” Danielle’s mother Shelly Schultz Kaschula told The Sports Hub.
Judging by what she has achieved in a short space of time, it’s difficult not to see the teenage rowing sensation fulfil her dreams.
But while the Covid-19 induced lockdown may have disrupted the general way of life around the globe and even in some instances ruined sporting careers, it has been a launch pad for Kaschula.
Restricted to indoor training on the ergometer (erg), Kaschula got the idea to compete in virtual competitions.
“She began to get a feel for the competition on the erg when she set five new world records last year during the lockdown. After that she entered into the African Indoor Rowing Championships in November 2020 where she won the Under-14 1 000m.
“The Irish Indoor Rowing Championships were held in January where she won her two races there in the Under-14 500m and Under-15 1 000m.
“The Canadian Indoor rowing championships were held this past Saturday where Danielle entered the Under-19 500m as this was the youngest age group for her to compete in. She held her own amazingly despite the strong competition and won the event as a 13-year-old against much older young ladies.
“Her time of 1 minute 32:8 second set a new world record for the concept2 13-14 years old category. Her time was really impressive, which gained her an invitation to compete in the World Indoor Rowing Championships which will be held on February 24th.
“We are so very proud of Danielle and her achievements. We are so excited for her; she has worked hard to get to this point and deserves her victories. It is so wonderful to watch her shine,” Shelly Schultz Kaschula said.
And now Danielle, who is a student at Peterhouse Girls School in Marondera, shifts focus to the World Indoor Rowing Championships which will be held virtually.
Another strong performance at the competition may open bigger doors and sent her rowing career on a pedestal.
“She is very happy and excited about being invited to World Indoor Rowing Championships. I think she doesn’t quite comprehend what a massive achievement this is in reality.
“She trains and competes in a bubble without other teammates or competitors so it’s difficult to fully appreciate this amazing success. “But due to Covid, amazing opportunities to compete against international competitors have become available through the virtual indoor rowing, which has given Danielle a lot of encouragement.
“Danielle has put a lot of effort into her training both on the water and on the erg week after week, alone due to the Covid circumstance which requires a lot of self-discipline. She is very determined and focused and wants to do well,” her mother said.