Kime siblings write new Dusi chapter and rewrite record books

2013-02-18 00:00

THIS year’s Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon belongs to the Kimes — Lance and Robyn — who made it a family affair with victory in the men’s and women’s races.

For Lance it was his maiden victory, while sister Robyn claimed her fourth back-to-back title. They wrote a new chapter in the history of the race, being the first brother and sister to take the titles in the same race, and in record time.

But the biggest heartbreak of the day was Sbonelo Zondi seeing the men’s race slip from his grasp as he paddled home third, behind a strong finishing Hank McGregor. With the front runners in the race starting last on the final leg from Inanda Dam, there was a large crowd to welcome home the podium three and Zondi was deservedly greeted by heartfelt applause.

He had already rewritten history by winning the first two stages, and this time round it was a case of third day unlucky when he took a swim at Pumphouse Weir, which enabled Kime and McGregor to shoot past.Said Zondi: “My paddle stuck under the water at Pumphouse and when I pulled up I toppled over. My boat filled with water and thanks to great crowd support, I was determined to remain focused and do my best, despite Lance and Hank going past. I wanted that final podium spot.”

Lance Kime’s effort was both a stage record and an overall race record. Robyn, 17 months his senior, smashed the women’s record.

Lance Kime was living a dream, saying: “In my wildest dreams I never dreamed I would be the Dusi champion. It was a roller-coaster ride.

“Sbonelo was awesome over Burma Road, getting two minutes ahead of me. Pumphouse Weir and rapids were my only chance and, while feeling heartbroken for Sbonelo when I saw him swimming, the adrenaline rush I got from being at the front and possibly winning was unbelievable.”

McGregor gambled in going around Burma Road, but discovered there was not enough water. “I knew I had lost time and when I came around Burma I was too far behind Lance and Sbonelo. It was a case of putting my head down and focusing on the finish. Andy Birkett was close behind and I had work to do,” he said.

Defending men’s champion Birkett finished fourth, with Thulani Mbanjwa fifth.

Robyn Kime made the women’s race her own, enjoying a big lead that enabled her to have a controlled final day, portaging where necessary and making sure of her win. “I had an unbelievable day one, opening up a huge lead … Day two nearly turned into a nightmare when my boat nearly broke in two at Hippo Rapid and the final day was a matter of doing things right and staying ahead. At the put in after Pumphouse I heard Lance had won and the adrenaline kicked in for the final stretch to the finish,” she said.

Second-placed Abby Adie had the fastest women’s time for the last day, but admitted it was a matter of securing second rather than chasing Kime. “Robyn was so far ahead and although I made up some time, it’s going to take something special to beat her in this race.”

Jen Theron was third, Hilary Pitchford fourth and Epworth matric pupil Bianca Haw fifth.

The reverse start on the final day was met with approval by the top paddlers, who relished the huge crowd lining the banks at the finish at Blue Lagoon.

Said Robyn: “All the people near the end certainly spur the paddlers on to dig deep and finish strongly.”

But perhaps the proudest person at the finish was Patrick Kime who was “Very proud of both Robyn and Lance. It was great to see this happen”.

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