‘I’m a tough girl’:‘Idols’ judge ready to take on Dusi challenge

2013-02-14 00:00

IDOLS judge and radio personality Unathi Msengana is ready for the challenge of her first Ultimate Dusi Canoe Marathon.

But first she needs a paddle.

When Msengana landed at King Shaka International in Durban yesterday, she discovered that her paddle did not make the trip from Johannesburg with her.

“The paddle was later found … in Cape Town!

“I didn’t know that the Dusi was in Cape Town. Perhaps they’re going to have the Two Oceans Dusi,” she said laughing.

She said she was told that her paddle would be with her today.

“I was determined to stay at the airport until my paddle was located as it is really important not to use replacement equipment on race day.

“I’ve been training with this paddle since November last year and you get familiar with the feel, so it would be really tough to adjust to a new paddle,” said Msengana.

During her practice run yesterday afternoon, with a different paddle, Msengana and her paddling partner, Oscar Chalupsky, took on the Ernie Pearce weir.

Later she told the media of her joy at conquering the first hurdle of the Dusi.

“I was nervous before, but it was so much fun,” she said after the drop down the weir.

Chalupsky said he was happy with how Msengana had handled herself during the practice paddle.

“She handled herself fantastically. She had fun.”

The 12-time world surfski champion has guided personalities such as Clive Barker, Doctor Khumalo and Peggy Sue Khumalo down the river.

Msengana trained for the race for six months and completed the Ultimate Ozzie Gladwin, which was held in November last year.

The water wasn’t her biggest concern, she said, but the portages — when paddlers carry their canoes on land — worried her.

She said she had had surgery to both of her knees, but that wasn’t going to stop her.

“I’m a tough girl and I will finish,” she declared.

The marathon starts at Camps Drift this morning and ends at Blue Lagoon in Durban on Saturday.

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