Canoeist Makes the Most of Sport and Studies
Ms Donna Hutton, a South African under 23 canoeist and first year BSc student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is one of the recipients of the UKZN Prestige Sports Scholarship. The Sports Scholarship is awarded for outstanding achievement in sports at international, national or provincial level.
The Epworth alumnus has just returned from Romania where she competed in the 2017 International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Sprint Junior and U23 World Championships. She is doing a BSc with the hope of progressing to do a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), which will enable her to become a high school mathematics teacher while also leaving the door open to other scientific careers.
Hutton enjoys the problem solving and mathematical thinking required by her studies and chose to study at UKZN because of its proximity to her coach and canoeing team. Pietermaritzburg’s drift boasts some of the best sprinters in the country, which she was loath to leave to study elsewhere.
In order to balance her busy schedule of training and studies, Hutton ensures that she remains alert and focused in all of her lectures, tutorials and practical sessions in order to minimise the amount of extra academic work she has to do outside of those times. This enables her to spend that time training, although when competitions roll around she has to dedicate all of her attention to her preparations, using the time off after racing to catch up on her studies.
Hutton has represented South Africa in the World Championships four times, and in 2014 competed in the Youth Olympics. She has the Olympics set in her sights for the future.
Hutton expressed her excitement at receiving a UKZN Prestige Sports Scholarship and her gratitude at being selected. Given that paddling is an expensive and poorly-funded sport, the scholarship removes considerable financial pressure and enables Hutton to study as well as take part in tours and make the most of her training.
She credited her coach, Mr Craig Mustard, for the hard work he puts into training her and fellow teammates at High-Performance Training. She also thanked her parents for their support and for allowing and making it possible for her to follow her dreams.
Hutton advised other athletes who are studying to ensure that they are doing what they love in both their sport and their studies.
‘The only way to successfully balance a sporting career and academic studies is if you love it and want to do it because that will motivate you to go out and make the most of each and every day,’ said Hutton.