YOUNG Port Elizabeth canoeist Jordan Zeelie leaves today to compete in the World Canoe Marathon Championships which will be held on the Tiber River in Rome from Sunday to September 24.
The 17-year-old Grey pupil, who has been paddling for 2½ years, has had a meteoric rise in the sport since joining the Blue Water Canoe Club, based at the Eastern Province Powerboat Club at North End Lake.
Although Canoeing South Africa have contributed towards the trip, the competitors have also had to raise funds and Zeelie has been hard at work to finance his trip.
He has also been supported by the Blue Water Canoe Club and other sponsors.
Blue Water Canoe Club chairman Paul Gerrard is delighted with Zeelie's progress and said he was equally proud that club members Hilda Lapere and Rob Welsh had qualified to compete in the Masters class.
Unfortunately, Welsh will not be making the trip to Rome.
"For a small club like ours to have members competing on the world stage is a fantastic achievement," Gerrard said.
Zeelie was quietly confident ahead of his departure for Cape Town where he will meet the rest of the SA team before flying to Rome via Dubai.
"To be in a team with the likes of canoeing legends Hank McGregor, Len Jenkins and Kenny Rice, to name a few, is a dream come true for me," Zeelie said.