Czechs add spice to local canoeing

2012-10-03 00:00

TOP international paddlers Michael Odvarko and Jakub Adam are set to add even more spice to the local canoe marathon season.

The pair, who hail from the Czech Republic, will be racing the South African circuit for the next five months, culminating with The Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon in February 2013.

Adam and Odvarko have impressive paddling CVs. They each hold three bronze medals from the World Canoeing Marathon Championships since 2008 and they have never finished outside the top five. Both have had a busy season this year having raced the top events on the European calendar, followed by the recent K2 World Canoe Marathon Championships in Rome.

“We really wanted to better our bronze medal finish in the 2011 World Champs, but we had a bad start. We put in a huge effort and caught up to the frontrunners, managing to finish fifth just behind Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt,” said Odvarko on his arrival in South Africa.

They are now bringing this excellent form to the South African circuit and the first race the pair will tackle is the Fish River Canoe Marathon this weekend. After this event, they have a full calendar with the Vaal Canoe Marathon in early November and The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin on Sunday, November 11.

“We are preparing for Ozzie Gladwin as it’s the first seeding race for the Dusi. The Fish will be a great testing ground and we are hoping that Hank and Grant will be there as they are defending champions,” said Adam.

The next five months won’t all be racing for the Czech pair as they will also be part of a dedicated training programme in the Valley of 1 000 Hills. They will work closely with local development coaches and paddlers at the Nagle Dam training centre with the likes of head KZN Canoe Union (KNCU) development coach Thulani (Michael) Mbanjwa and up-and-coming paddlers such as Kwanda Mhlophe, Nele Cele and Lucas Mthalane.

According to Czech team coach and manager Craig Mustard, this is the first time that international paddlers will be formally sharing their knowledge with development paddlers and vice versa.“I believe that Odvarko and Adam will give our South African paddlers some tough competition. They completed Dusi this year without much preparation in a very credible 22nd place.”

— Own Correspondent.

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