Teen world champ savours success with role model Stott

2008-09-22 00:00

Tyn Nad Vltavou (Czech Republic) — New world marathon canoeing champion Cam Schoeman is a shell-shocked teenager overawed by the achievement of winning the K2 world title with Ant Stott, a man whom he unashamedly idolises.

“Ant (Stott) has been winning for longer than I have been paddling,” said Schoeman, who will turn 20 on Christmas Day. “He is my role model and has been for years. He is my hero and the experience of racing with him and winning is amazing,” he added.

“My mind still goes back to the day that he first raised the idea of doing the K2 trial together,” said Schoeman. “I was stunned and kept asking ‘Why me?’

“To be where I am right now is a dream come true,” he added. “It has not even come close to sinking in yet.”

What is clear, however, is that his unswerving support of Stott played a big part in their success in the icy weather in the Czech Republic at the weekend. Since winning the SA Marathon championships together in Witbank, he has tucked in alongside Stott as they trained for months in Europe, ending with a gruelling training camp in Hungary.

“Ant is just brilliant when it comes to huge races like this,” said Schoeman. “He can control and read the race tactically so well.”

Stott and Schoeman were part of a four-boat duel after the final portage, with the powerful Czech crew of Thomas Horak and Petr Skala leading the race with 400 metres to go.

“Ant timed it just magnificently and took us off the wave and alongside them, and then we kicked,” recalled Schoeman. “I have such huge respect for him.”

The pair have much in common. Both are products of Maritzburg College and both represent Natal Canoe Club in Pietermaritzburg. Their competitive temperament and their off-the-water zeal and enthusiasm are almost identical.

Stott, who has just turned 32, believes that Schoeman’s self-belief was critical to the positive outcome of their K2 challenge.

“For months there wasn’t a moment that he did not believe that we were going to win the race,” said Stott.

The win is also hugely significant for Stott, who realised after his 2003 bronze medal in the world marathon champs K1 race that the key to success in marathon races lay in sprint training.

“This world champs K2 race was as much about me getting experience at this level, with the plan to give it a serious go with Shaun Rubenstein next year. So to win it is totally, totally amazing,” said Stott.

Stott is basking in the satisfaction of a hugely successful season, which included a very significant victory in the first marathon World Cup of the season in Portugal, and a series of successful races on the Spanish Sella circuit, before his historic double-medal weekend at the world championships.

Stott and Schoeman return to South Africa this week for a well-earned rest. The pair have also announced that they will be entering the Hansa Powerade Fish Marathon in two weeks’ time, adding more spice to what is already sizing up to be a ferocious K2 championship race.

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