All-round praise for Dusi’s iconic face

2014-02-12 00:00

AS the race organisers prepare for the 63rd running of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, top paddlers have praised the event while the organising committee has heaped praise on the local government for helping achieve this critical acclaim.

Current marathon world champion Hank McGregor has labelled the race “one-of-a-kind”, seasoned paddler and another former world marathon champ Ant Stott says it is the “best organised race in the world”.

“People need to know that there isn’t a paddling event anywhere in the world that is as well organised and as slick as the Dusi,” says Stott, who has raced river marathons all over the world, including the iconic Ardeche marathon in France and the Sella Descent in Spain.

“The Dusi is one of the biggest sporting events in the province and it would not be where it is today without the support from the government and the Department of Sport and Recreation,” Dusi general manager Brett Austin Smith says, lauding their confidence in the race and their efforts in sustaining the three-day event.

Canoeing has become a stand-out sport in terms of development with the number of black paddlers at the top of the results increasing due to the sound development programmes in place.

“The development of young paddlers in the province has only been possible through the generous donations from the Department of Sport and Recreation. The most encouraging thing to come from these development initiatives is the amount of paddlers that are achieving at the highest level,” Smith says.

The MEC for Sport and Recreation in the province, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, understands the significance of the Dusi in terms of its impact on the province as well as nationally and is glad that her department have backed the event to the extent that they have.

“The Dusi is an iconic event in the province and it draws in people from all over the country, indeed all over the world, to KwaZulu-Natal,” she says. “Hosting iconic events like the Dusi serves as a catalyst to encouraging people from all walks of life to participate in sport and to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle.”

Four-time Dusi winner Stott says the Dusi sets the global benchmark for canoeing event organisation.

“Everything from the moment paddlers register and collect their goodie bags, to the media, the marshalling, and the incredible atmosphere along the way is simply the best in the world,” says Stott.

Stott adds the race is truly unique as it requires a vast knowledge of the river and portages.

“A lot of races around the world race from point A to point B, but the Dusi is very different to that in that you really need to have spent a lot of time in the valley practising and gaining experience on what is the shortest and safest way to get to Durban.

“It is so far from your average race, it is so technical and learning the ins and the outs of the valley are vital for all paddlers.”

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