Champ Hank does it again

2011-11-14 00:00

SPECTATORS were treated to a stunning performance by the newly crowned world marathon canoeing champion yesterday at The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon, which took place at Albert Falls near Pietermaritzburg.

Hank McGregor, who won the world canoeing marathon championships only a few weeks ago, decided “at the last minute” to take part.

He and partner Grant van der Walt took the race by the scruff of the neck beating an in-form Michael Mbanjwa and partner Eric Zondi, who finished second.

Said McGregor, “Initially I was going to paddle the race with my Dusi partner Ant Stott, but he is carrying an injury.

“Grant van der Walt and I did a 50 km downwind surf-ski paddle on Saturday and it went so well that I suggested to him that we do the Ozzie.

“His answer to me was that he would love to do it, but was concerned that we might be late for our flight to a race in Hong Kong, which departed on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm. I said to him well then we better paddle fast and we did — enough to win.”

The pair went head-to-head with Mbanjwa and Zondi until they got to Cascades about six kilometres from the finish. It was there that they literally turned on the the taps and won by almost two minutes.

One of the surprises of the day was the pairing of Len Jenkins and Greg Louw, who won the Vaal marathon last week. They were tipped to win, but slid into third place behind Mbanjwa and Zondi.

In the women’s race the Adie twins battled it out with the Dusi Queen Abby Miedema and Robyn Kime. After a long and arduous battle the Adie twins managed to win the event.

Said Paul Firman, chairperson of the organisers, “We are very happy with the way the event has grown over the last few years.”

The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin is traditionally the biggest one-day canoe race in South Africa and yesterday was no exception, with over 750 paddlers taking to the water. It is the first Dusi seeding race of the season which makes it a must on the calendar.

All eyes are now on the various combinations for The Unlimited Dusi, which promises to be one of the best yet. The event, which takes place from February 16 to 18 next year, is approaching fast for paddlers who are preparing for the event.

The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin is a K2 (doubles) race as is the Dusi.

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