Last-minute surprise entry from Olympian and U23 talent

2012-02-15 00:00

WITH just a day to the start of The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon, the hotly contested women’s race received a last-minute boost by the very late entries of experienced river paddler and Olympian Jen Hodson and exciting U23 talent Tamika Haw.

Haw, initially set to paddle with Hilary Pitchford, endured a rollercoaster ride during the final month of preparations after her hopes were dashed by a fall during a training run that left Pitchford with a broken wrist.

Having revised her Dusi plans, Haw then grew comfortable with the idea of having a more social paddle with her father — “Farmer Glen” as he is known by many — before an unexpected call from Hodson once again shook up her Dusi plans.

“It’s been an interesting couple of weeks,” admitted the young Stellenbosch University student.

“I’m both excited and nervous, but I’m really looking forward to paddling with Jen [Hodson] now though and hopefully things go well for us.

“It was obviously very disappointing when Hilary [Pitchford] called saying that her wrist wasn’t going to be ready in time.

“But we all were half expecting that to be the case when she first injured herself, so I had a little bit of time to prepare myself for it.”

The experience of Hodson combined with the youth and strength of Haw could well see the pair become strong contenders in the battle for the final step on the podium as the top two crew of Abby and Alex Adie and Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky battle it out for the women’s title.

Hodson said: “Tamika has been paddling for a while now and is looking very strong, so she’ll drive.

“She’s done all the tripping and when it comes to the Dusi I’m a bit of a passenger.

“We’ve never even sat in the boat together before, so it will certainly be interesting, but we definitely go out there and try to race the other girls as best we can.

“We will certainly be out to beat Tamika’s sister Bianca, and that’s not just something that has come from Tamika,” she chuckled.

Having finished one place behind her younger sister in last year’s K1, Haw will be out to prove a point this time around and is feeling good ahead of this year’s contest.

She said: “Being up towards the front of the women’s race isn’t something I’ve really experienced before.

“So hopefully we can try get ourselves into a good position early on, but having not ever paddled together before and everything being quite last-minute we’re not going to get too stressed if things go a little wrong.

“I’ve been working really hard and training went well, especially over the December holidays.

“I’ve been paddling on the Umko and the Drak quite a bit as well as heading out on a surfski down at Scottburgh every now and then, so I’m feeling good.”

The marathon from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban takes place from tomorrow to Saturday.

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