Pmb canoeists win raft of prizes

2014-07-14 00:00

NATAL Canoe Club (NCC) excelled at the recent annual KwaZulu-Natal Canoeing Union (KNCU) prizegiving dinner, hosted at the Durban Country Club, walking away with numerous awards despite extremely tough competition.

The Pietermaritzburg powerhouse showed it is not only producing fine development paddlers, but also excellent administrators when the NCC Development Race, a Dusi Canoe Marathon qualifier run by the club’s development team, received the award for the best organised single day race.

NCC general manager Brett Austen Smith was thrilled that the club’s development members had been recognised for putting on an excellent event. “The award for the best one-day race is very exciting and a great tribute to the development team who have put so much into canoeing over the last 12 months. The team really has worked hard to contribute to the sport through their event as well as the Academy initiatives that they manage,” he said.

Austen Smith, the chairman of Canoeing South Africa’s Marathon Committee, addressed the gathering on the preparations for the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships after the club’s successful bid to host them. “The 2017 World Marathon Champs present an exciting opportunity for all stakeholders in canoeing. Everybody from social supporter to elite athlete will have an opportunity to benefit from the event if they make a commitment,” he said.

Andy Birkett, who claimed his fourth Dusi Canoe Marathon title in February in emphatic fashion with Sbonelo Zondi, received the award for the best under-23 paddler.

He was a slam-dunk winner of the title after edging out fellow South African Brandon van der Walt for the under-23 marathon world title after a tremendous tussle between the pair in Copenhagen, while he also lifted the South African K1 river title by outduelling Hank McGregor in the N3TC Drak Challenge.

Abby Adie received the award as the leading female paddler after another strong season. Like Birkett, she won the South African K1 river title, claiming victory by more than three minutes over Robyn Kime. In addition, she picked up the K2 crown with Donna Tutton by finishing ahead of fellow NCC stars Bridgitte Hartley and Hilary Bruss in the Vaal Marathon.

Adie also placed second in the Dusi with her Czech partner Anna Adamova after a tremendous tussle with Kime and Abbey Ulansky, with only a minute and seven seconds separating the two boats at the end of the race.

Marion Young was perhaps the easiest award of all to decide after she won both the K1 and K2 titles in the 35 to 39 year age group at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Copenhagen. At the other end of the scale, her coach, Len Jenkins senior, won the men’s K1 title in the 70 to 74 year age group and also picked up a silver medal in the K2s. He was an obvious winner of the award for the leading paddler in the great grandmasters’ category.

Among the Juniors, under-18 winner Bryan Leroux demonstrated his versatility by being crowned the Victor Ludorum at the South African Sprint Championships. He also won K2 gold at the South African Marathon Champs and gold medals for the country at the African Sprint Championships in the 1 000 metres K1 and Marathon.

The girls’ winner was Bianca Haw, who starred in the Dusi and the Drak Challenge, and showed her all-round sporting prowess by also winning gold for South Africa in the junior women’s race at the African Continental MTB Championships.

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