Four-time Dusi winner Ant Stott bids adieu to competitive paddling

2013-02-19 00:00

ANT Stott (34) has raced his last competitive Dusi.

The four-time winner, who finished his 19th race on Saturday in a solid sixth place, said in Durban yesterday that full-time work commitments had curtailed his training and definitely ended his days of international competition.

Said Stott: “Owning a business franchise now has my full attention and I think this year’s Dusi was the last one where I was competitive. I will always be part of Dusi, but I think in future years I will paddle for the fun of it and enjoy the race with no pressure.”

Even this year his normal precision training routine had taken a back seat.

“I took on this year’s race knowing my training had suffered. Not being a full-time paddler, I had to squeeze in most of my preparation, often training in the dark,” he said.

Even so, Stott gave a solid performance in this year’s Dusi.

At the end of the first day, he was just off the gold medals, sitting in 11th spot. “I was never in contention to win, but I set myself a goal of finishing in the top 10. Day one was tough with plenty of running. I suffered there as my running training was well below par thanks to my Achilles injury.”

Known as a day two specialist, and a day from where Stott has launched many an attack in the race, he did not disappoint, living up to expectations and moving from 11th to sixth. “I always enjoy the second day and having lots of water this time around, I could paddle as much as possible. However, some of the rapids on day two were quite scary due to the big water. For me and the more experienced paddlers, we could take it on and knew which lines to take, but for the majority of the field, it was a daunting task.”

The big water was just what Stott needed and even on day three, he stayed on the water as much as possible. “That was my plan, to stay in the water as long as I could. There was no question about Burma Road … I was always going to go around. It was never an option.”

As for the reverse order start on the final day, Stott was all for it, saying he hoped it became a permanent fixture of the race. “For one, it was great to steal a few extra hours sleeping. In the past, the leading batch has had to get up around 4 am or earlier and this time around, I could ease into the day for a change.

“With the rest of the field well ahead of us, we had no problems with backmarkers, other than the real stragglers, and the finish was pumping. It was great to finish with crowds of people and an atmosphere,” he said.

Stott’s performance could be the end of an era, the genial, quietly determined paddler having carved his name in the race as one of its legends. “I was happy with my finish. I reached my goal and I was able to paddle without any pressure to perform. I raced hard and found it easier than I had anticipated. I will always be a part of Dusi. It’s in my blood,” he said.

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