Dusi: mom greets new champ

2011-02-21 00:00

TWENTY-YEAR-OLD Andrew Birkett made it back-to-back Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathons on Saturday, and immediately had to talk down comparisons with the legendary, late Graeme Pope-Ellis.

“No way, I would never compare myself to ‘the Pope’,” the wiry Birkett said.

“What he did in the Dusi was unbelievable, and it would take me years to even get close to achieving what he did.

“Maybe talk to me in 15 years,” he offered, before adding, “Maybe even 20. The competition is getting tougher and tougher you know.”

Birkett held off that competition on Saturday morning, as he secured his first K1 title with a sprint against the indefatigable Ant Stott, providing the greatest Dusi finish ever.

Robyn Kime won the women’s title, and said the win would be cherished forever.

“I’m really chuffed with the win, especially considering it is the 60th anniversary of the race and the Graeme Pope-Ellis memorial,” she added. “It’s definitely one I’ll cherish at the end of my career.”

Stott, who was the most gracious of silver medallists, commended young Birkett on an outstanding race.

“Wow, Andy Birkett. What a phenomenal race. He raced all three days perfect, and I couldn’t have done any better out there,” the former champion conceded.

“I was thoroughly impressed, and all I can say is well done to him.”

Stott’s good grace and sportmanship were all part of a race that will be remembered as much for its incredible finish as it will be for the camaraderie between competitors.

As a Maritzburg College old boy, Birkett and numerous other top paddlers took great joy when a “rival school” was in a spot of bother during the first day.

“As we went down Ernie Pearce Weir, there were College boys standing on the bank doing the school war-cry,” he remarked.

“And on the Weir, there were three College boys — Andy, Len Jenkins and myself — going down together, and one DHS guy [Hank McGregor] going down the Weir backwards. It was awesome,” he grinned.

Birkett, upon reaching the finish, received a warm embrace from his mother, Margaret.

“She has had to put up with mood swings for the last three months while I trained for this,” he explained.

Ecstatic father David was just amazed how Birkett’s thin arms had carried him over the line.

“I have no idea where the strength comes from,” he beamed proudly.

“Those things look like they are about to snap off.”

Birkett’s dream day on Saturday was rounded off in some style, as some 40 000 spectators at the Super 15 match between the Sharks and the Cheetahs gave him a standing ovation during half-time, as those weary, wiry arms carried the boat across the field for a lap of honour.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.