No STOTTing him!

2009-01-16 00:00

ANT Stott targeted yesterday’s second day of the Dusi Canoe Marathon as a crucial “moving day” and he duly delivered on his promise to build a significant lead over rival Michael Mbanjwa.

At home in the water, the World Marathon champion exceeded even his own expectations as he opened up a 13-minute lead by the finish at Inanda Dam.

Capitalising on a series of mishaps for first stage winner Mbanjwa, defending champion Stott took his opportunity when Mbanjwa ran into trouble, firstly with a damaged rudder at Nqumeni Hill portage and then at Hippo Rocks.

“I took a big risk at Hippo, because I saw ‘Banji’ on the rocks and I decided to shoot the rapid. I almost swam, but once I got through I tried to open up as big a lead as I could because I knew he would be desperate to catch me,” Stott said at the finish.

Stott’s reward for his risk-taking was a lead that continued to grow as he powered along Inanda Dam.

“I had a brilliant paddle; in fact, it was my best second day paddle ever,” Stott added.

Mbanjwa admitted that his early misfortune did sap his energy somewhat, and he struggled to recover on the river.

“It was definitely a tough day, but I had no choice but to change my rudder at Nqumeni,” he said.

“I lost a lot of time there, and I knew it was going to have a huge impact because Ant was right behind me by then,” he lamented.

The sheer size of the lead means Stott is the overwhelming favourite to succesfully defend his title, but he for one is not admitting as much.

“Burma Road and I are not the best of friends, and this is Michael we are talking about, so I would not be surprised if he made up as much as eight minutes there,” Stott said.

Mbanjwa admitted it will be an uphill struggle for him today, but stopped short of throwing in the towel.

“I will try my very best, and run my hardest at Burma and hope to get as close as I can,” he said.

Third placed Shaun Rubenstein portrayed the spirit of the marathon at the end of day two.

“It’s a pity about ‘Banji’ today, but he is a big guy and I am sure he will bounce back. I look forward to the day when he cracks it on the K1,” he said.

It was an altogether more serene tale in the women’s race, with Abbey Miedema putting together a near-perfect display after a tough first day.

“I had a great day, and I enjoyed the low level,” a beaming Miedema said at the finish.

Miedema even had time to help an ailing Michael Arthur.

“Michael was struggling a bit, and I told him to get on my wave until he got back on track,” she said.

With the senior races nearly decided, the most intriguing battle in today’s final stage could come in the junior boys’ race.

Lance Kime holds a very slender lead over Kwanda Hlophe, and they could provide the most thrilling tussle in today’s final proceedings.

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