Kime’s withdrawal throws race wide open

2013-06-12 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The race for the women’s title in the Berg River Canoe Marathon has been thrown wide open by the news that former champion Robyn Kime won’t be on the start line to challenge for a third title.

Kime is in the thick of the final year of her engineering masters course at the University of Stellenbosch, and has a compulsory course that clashes with the Berg River Canoe Marathon this year.

“It’s unfortunate, but the studies have to take precedence this year,” said Kime.

Kime has enjoyed a great start to 2013 by following up her second place in the N3TC Drak Challenge with a fourth consecutive victory in the Dusi Canoe Marathon in February. She has also taken to trail running, adventure racing and rock climbing. “It’s been a busy year, and the rest will actually go down well,” Kime added.

Kime was named the Western Cape Sportswoman of the Year earlier in the year, a breakthrough for an athlete from a so-called minor sport, clinching an award traditionally dominated by the female swimmers and track athletes, for a stellar year that included a stunning silver medal at the 2012 World Marathon Championships in Rome.

Kime won the Berg women’s title in 2009 as a 19-year-old first year student, and then retained her title the following year. Equally significantly, she has also played a pivotal role in ensuring that the female paddlers taking part in the race were not adversely affected by the race’s rules, which for decades disadvantaged the small number of females by insisting that they race within their own class, denying them the opportunity to ride the slip waves of male paddlers around them.

She has played a major role in ensuring the standard of canoeing at Maties has been consistently high, which in turn has helped raise the bar for paddlers in the regular races in the Western Cape.

With the Berg this year clashing with the ICF Surfski World Championships, this adds a further complication to the decision facing the country’s top female paddlers. 2011 champ Michéle Eray is certain to be swayed by the inaugural surfski world champs in Portugal, while last year’s winner Jen Theron is likely to settle into a winter training regime with her husband Jacques and return to defend her title.

Should Theron not make the muster, the door will be wide open for a new name on the coveted Berg women’s trophy, triggering a needle race between the region’s emerging star female paddlers.

The Berg River Canoe marathon starts in Paarl on July 10 and ends at Velddrif on July 13.

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