Birkett the Dusi winner now also a world champion

2013-09-26 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG canoeist Andy Birkett is a world champion.

The 23-year-old Birkett claimed first place at the Under-23 World Canoe Marathon in Copenhagen, Denmark last week. Durban’s Brandon van der Walt was just behind him in second.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Birkett said he was “super chuffed” to win the crown, which he said was also a surprise to him.

“It was my first marathon championships and I’m chuffed to win it at the first go,” he said from the Eastern Cape where he is due to compete in this year’s Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon.

Prior to the marathon in Denmark, Birkett, along with 2005 Dusi winner Hank McGregor, had put in about five months of training.

“I didn’t do too well in this year’s Dusi and I decided to open myself up to other competitions and experiences,” he said.

With the canoeing season just starting, Birkett said he would take a break of about two weeks after the Fish River Marathon before he got down to some serious training for the months ahead.

For this season he felt strong due to the amount of work he’d put in with McGregor. Birkett paddles with Cameron Schoeman for the weekend’s two-day Fish River journey.

Last year’s Dusi winner Lance Kime will partner Thulani Mbanjwa in this year’s Fish.

However, with the two having just started paddling together, Birkett felt that although they would be a force to reckon with, they weren’t one of the favourites.

“They’ll make the top 10. They could make the top five. They’ll be strong, but I don’t think they’ll be favourites,” he said.

The Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon will begin tomorrow and end on Saturday.

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