Hartbeespoort skier, Dennis de Jongh has just won a bronze medal in the tricks division at the +35 European Africa championships, and at the age of 60, he has his eyes set on the world championship.
Dennis, a chartered accountant, only started skiing at the age of 28. “A friend of mine offered to teach me. At first, I could not even get out of the water, but once I did I couldn’t get enough. I used to get really frustrated when friends did not want to go skiing on weekends. It was then that my wife told me to go get my own boat!” Dennis says.
“However, the sport did not come easy to me. Hard training and persistence won the day.”
He turned to trick-skiing after he had met tournament skiers on Hartbeespoort Dam. “Slalom was the focus. I tried to trick and it was great fun. I compete in both slalom and tricks.”His first competition was in 1996 and ever since a string of achievements have followed. He is the current South African Champion in the over 55 men’s age division for slalom and trick and holds the current over 55 men South African Trick record. He boasts several bronze and silver medals won at the European Africa +35 Waterski Championships over the years. He has skied in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Chile, and Mexico
During the recent championship in Ravenna, Italy in September, he competed against 125 competitors from across Europe and South Africa. “We were fortunate to have the tournament and to be able to travel and to participate due to the current pandemic. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, and the skiers all seemed to have had a great time. We are friends off the water and competitors on the water. I only skied in the trick event this year due to lack of slalom training.”
Dennis says they could not train because of the state of the dam. “The slalom course is on the far west side of the dam between The Coves and Magalies Park. Due to the hyacinth and weed, I cannot get in there to repair the course.”
He tries to ski twice a day, every day if the weather and boat activity on the dam permits it. His family is a great support and his daughter Hannah has followed in her father’s footsteps with a number of impressive achievements. “Hannah started skiing when she was 9 years old. Unlike her father, she was a quick learner and loved being out on the water.”
Skiing has become a way of life for the De Jongh family. “The fantastic part of water skiing is that the entire family can participate. It keeps me fit and healthy, and I keep learning and improving. In today’s world, there are few activities for the entire family to enjoy together. I am grateful that I found this sport because of the great rewards it brings.”