Stott claims memorable eighth Lowveld Croc victory

2012-09-25 00:00

MBOMBELA — Ant Stott continued his domination of the 50th anniversary of the Lowveld Croc Canoe Marathon, as he powered to victory by over a minute ahead of Gauteng’s Jacques Theron, to claim his eighth victory in the race.

Despite the race doubling as the Gauteng K1 River Marathon trials, Theron and his fellow locals were unable to reel in the KwaZulu-Natal-based star who, despite a couple of mistakes, was unstoppable throughout the two days of hard-fought river racing.

“A couple of my Lowveld Croc titles have been South African titles as well, so those are always special, but other than those, I’d say this one probably means the most to me,” said Stott.

“Paddling hasn’t been my main priority for the past two years, with me having to spend a lot more time trying to set up my business, so a major race win at this stage of my career, when I’m probably not going to be racing competitively for much longer, obviously means a lot to me,” he added.

“It was another good day out there for me. There was good water, but it’s a section of river we haven’t been able to do too many times in the past because of the hippo, so it was quite tough out there,” said Stott.

For Theron, it was a bitter-sweet end as the paddling veteran narrowly missed out on claiming a rare victory on home soil.

“It was a good day for me and I’m still happy with my race,” said Theron. “There was a really good field here this year and to have beaten a guy like Andy [Birkett], and come second to Ant [Stott] is an honour. The best aspect is just to be on this river and coming second is just a bonus.”

Despite having finished two places down on his effort last year, third-place finisher Andy Birkett (Team Best 4 Kayak Centre) emerged from the water without a hint of regret or frustration, but rather showed his boyish enthusiasm for paddling abundantly clear to all on the banks.

“I didn’t swim,” he splurted out before anyone could get a congratulatory word in. “I tried to keep it as consistently paced as I could and I think I closed the gap between Jacques [Theron] and myself quite a bit, but hats off to both Jacques [Theron] and Ant [Stott]. They out-classed me on both days.”

Mike Smith and Theron’s regular K2 partner Piers Cruickshanks rounded out the top five, while it was a one-woman show from start to finish in the women’s race as Jen Theron cruised to a commanding victory by over 26 minutes and came an impressive 16th overall. Despite being out on her own from the word go, Theron will take a lot out of the victory and will add it to the rest of her results in a year, which will surely be one to cherish in years to come.

Maritzburg College matric pupil Murray Haw claimed the junior title, while Damon Stamp was the first U16 across the line.

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