SA Gold panners bring medals home

Frieda Paton

The South African team returned from the World Gold Panning Championships with 10 medals in the bag. A 45-person strong SA team competed in the championships which were held in Moffat, Scotland, from August 8-12.

The star of the team was undoubtedly Surprise Mdluli, who brought home three medals including a bronze in the proficient men’s category.  Thembi Moyanga won bronze in the proficient ladies finals.  In the national team competition Sendra Mthuke, Joseph Mashaka, Surprise Mdluli, Bronwyn Crawford-Brunt and Trevor Kirsten finished third to win bronze and Mthuke, Mdluli and Mashaka also won silver in the three person team event.

“It was the best performance ever by an SA team in the 20 years that we have participated in the annual World Gold Panning Championships,” said Sonja Vermaak, Chairlady of the SA Gold Panning Association. “The strong SA presence at the Championships would also not have been possible without the generous grant provided by the Mpumalanga Department of Sport, Culture and Recreation.”

Besides those who won medals, many of the SA team members made it through to the finals and achieved good placings. Five members of the team made it through to the proficient men and five to the proficient ladies finals.  Seven team members competed in the junior finals where Charity Mkhantswa and Sonet Vermaak took fourth and fifth places respectively.  Seven team members also made it through to the traditional pan finals.

Gold panning is an enjoyable sport for the whole family.  In a competition, between 5 and 12 small pieces of gold are seeded in a bucket with 20 kg of sand and the gold have to be washed out in the shortest possible time.  If you would like to try your hand at this sport, you can join in the SA National Gold Panning Championships which will be held during October 4-7 in Pilgrim’s Rest.

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