Born and raised in sleepy Fish Hoek, Cape Town, world champion and world-record holders DAWID AND NIKKI MOCKE met when she was just 13. Now 36 and 39, they have been married 14 years. From a youthful start as Fish Hoek Nippers (junior lifesavers), they have found themselves achieving beyond their wildest dreams. Dawid has earned six Springbok caps in lifesaving and canoeing, and was World Surfski Series Champion four times between 2009 and 2012 (for those who were wondering, a surfski is a sit-on-top kayak designed for big-ocean conditions)
‘Gold medals are never enough’: world champs Dawid and Nikki Mocke | Photo: Tonya Hester

Nikki has made 18 national teams for lifesaving, marathon canoe and sprint canoe paddling. Career highlights to date? World champion marathon paddler in 1998. Guinness world-record holder of 2003 (she paddled from Cuba to Florida on a paddle board with three other girls, don’t ask why). World lifesaving surfski champion in 2004. Crowning it all were the Olympic Games in 2008, where she came 7th in the final of the K4s (that’s a four-man canoe to most of us)

Dawid has a degree in information science and worked in software before leaving to start the Mocke Paddling Surfski School. Nikki works as a marketing administrator. Sam, their ‘machine of a son’, is seven years old and they have a ‘beautiful princess’ called Sarah. They still live in Fish Hoek. Here, they give thislife a little insight into their lives…

Olympian Nikki in action


Butter/margarine? Neither really

I love surfski-ing because… It’s challenging and different every time I go out. I love the people, the lifestyle and the adrenaline when it’s big

Most irritating habit in self? I’m impatient

Most irritating habit in others? Taking too long to do stuff

One thing you didn’t expect about motherhood is… That it’s non-stop! Like NON-STOP! And how much I really love my children!

You and God? Well, I first found a boyfriend (Dawid) who was going to church and because I wanted to hang out with him, I would go to church with him…

Best thing about God? His perfect peace!

Favourite spiritual thought? A gold medal is an awesome thing, but if you can’t be enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it

Dawid: ‘I did stuff I’m not proud of but now I’ve found purpose’


Most irritating habit in self? Overcommitting myself

Most irritating habit in others? Slurping and constant texting… but I’m guilty too, sooooo…um…yeah!

One thing I didn’t expect about fatherhood is… how difficult ‘discipline’ can be and how to know when not to sweat the small stuff

Slobby habit? I never put anything away after I have used it

Coffee/tea? Woolworths’ hazelnut-flavoured coffee made with an Aeropress!

My ultimate comfort food is… Wholenut chocolate slab or ‘skuimpies’ (meringues)

I love surfskiing because… The ocean’s totally limitless and you can paddle any day, any time

How God? I always knew about God. Like the Bible says, creation itself is a testimony to God’s existence, but I had my reservations. The bottom line: I didn’t have a relationship with God and I didn’t believe it was possible

Because my parents were Christian I used to go to a church, but it was more out of habit and respect for my parents than anything else. As I got older and started to form my own opinions, I decided I would do it my way and have the best of both worlds. In my opinion, God’s word was only a guideline and not the ultimate truth. I believed some of it, but not all of it. I never actively sought to know him because I didn’t believe existence was all about God

I was a reckless and impulsive person who wanted to experience everything life had to offer. During this time I got up to no good and did some stuff that I’m not very proud of today

So if my existence wasn’t about God, then what was it about? Well, when you don’t live for Him, you live for yourself, and when you live for yourself you try to be as significant as possible. For me, this meant achieving success so I would be a somebody and stand out from the crowd. I tried to find my significance in my performance as an athlete. ‘Who I am’ meant ‘what I achieve’

I was 19 and my next big event was the 1996 Surf Lifesaving world titles in Durban. I was fit and confident. However, in the quarter finals I tripped in a pothole as I was running up the beach, fell flat on my face and was out of the event. In an instant, everything I had put my trust in came to nothing. In Ecclesiastes 2:11it says: ‘Yet when I surveyed all my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun’

All of a sudden, I realised I was chasing the wind and would not find significance in my achievements. I was in a place of desperation after I realised this, and after the world titles I had no more motivation whatsoever. I didn’t know what to live for anymore and was caught in a downward spiral

In this place of desperation, I called out to the only solid thing I could recall. I remembered from church days the parable of the two men building their houses. One built his house on sand and the other on a rock. The house on sand got destroyed (like my house), but the house on the rock remained. I decided to build my house on the rock. Since then one of my favourite mantras has been a scripture I found in the Bible: ‘His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love’

I realised God wasn’t interested in what I could achieve, but only in having a relationship with Him, trusting in His love for me. From that day on, my life had more meaning than ever before. I suddenly felt I had a real purpose on this earth

Every major decision I have ever made since then has only been after prayerful consideration, and it’s been amazing how sometimes unorthodox decisions which didn’t make sense at the time have turned out in my life. A good example would be my current ‘job’, if you could call it that. I make a living from paddling and I would never have decided to pursue that based purely on the wisdom of the world

Spending time with God: easy/hard? Used to be so easy, now with having two children and a zoo around the house it’s tough sneaking around, trying not to wake the household

Make me president and I’d… be ruthless about corruption!

Fit family: Nikki and Dawid with Sam and Sarah
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