‘It’s my last chance’

2015-02-04 00:00

BACK from the competitive cold, the three-time Dusi Canoe Marathon runner-up Laura O’Donoghue is quietly hoping to bring down the curtain on her competitive paddling career with a solid performance in a few weeks time in the Pietermaritzburg to Durban classic.

O’Donoghue (née Thompson) sandwiched a 2007 K1 second place finish between runners-up feats in 2006 and 2008’s K2 years and, after some time out of the sport due to she and husband Ross starting a family in Zambia, the former ace is looking forward to giving it one last go in 2015.

“It would definitely be really exciting for me to do well at this year’s Dusi in what will probably be my last competitive paddling race,” says the 30-year-old athlete.

“When I started my Dusi buildup last year I said to myself that I just wanted to have three clean days with no mistakes and to feel strong. As time has gone by though, I’ve become more and more competitive so it would be really pleasing to do well, particularly as my decision to race hard once more has been quite a sacrifice not only for me but my whole family as well.”

Some time out of the sport may have meant some coats of rust had to be dispelled early on in her preparations, but a sublime KwaZulu-Natal river marathon season sees O’Donoghue in the form of her life ahead of the looming three-day assignment.

“This is my last chance and while I’ve always tried to be competitive previously, I’ve never been in the shape that I’m in now,” explained O’Donoghue.

“I’ve looked to try and spend as much time on the river as possible ahead of this year’s race so I’ve done a lot of the pre-Dusi races and they’ve all gone quite well for me,” she said.

“When I used to race before my break from the sport, I never used to run with the boat. I’d just rock up at Camps Drift and do my own thing in training. Now we’ve got a good group training together at the Natal Canoe Club High Performance Centre though and I feel I’m really well prepared.”

Despite her solid preparations and the absence of five-time winner Robyn Kime from this year’s start line due to her international travels, O’Donoghue is reluctant to commit to a vision of standing atop the podium at Blue Lagoon come February 21. “I don’t want to set the bar too high and set myself up for disappointment but it would be nice to do well, that’s for sure.”

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