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South Africa’s canoe marathons

first_imgSouth Africa is blessed with three world-class canoe marathons, each offering the paddler a supreme challenge along with genuine camaraderie in a field that includes not only those trying to win, but also those who come to compete with themselves and the river.The Fish River and Berg River canoe marathons are more traditional races, consisting mostly of paddling with a little portaging, but the Dusi Canoe Marathon, raced between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, offers a unique challenge, with portaging making up a significant part of the race.Dusi Canoe MarathonFish River Canoe MarathonBerg River Canoe Marathon DUSI CANOE MARATHONThe Dusi is the longest running of the three races, having been contested for the first time in 1951, when world-renowned conservationist Ian Player, the brother of golfing legend Gary, was the only finisher out of a field of eight men.It took Player six days to complete the epic journey – during which time he was bitten by a night adder. Player crawled to a nearby road and managed to get a lift to a police station, where he collapsed. Anti-serum was administered, and he continued on to Durban.The first four editions of the race were contested on a non-stop basis, but in 1956 the race was changed to its present three-stage format, bringing an end to non-stop racing, through-the-night paddling and sleeping out in the open.Toughest canoe race in the worldFor many years the Dusi remained an elite event feared by the average paddler, and it wasn’t until 1967 that the 100-entry mark was finally achieved. By 1970 it was being billed as “the toughest canoe race in the world”.In the words of Ian Player: “No man who has done the 110 gruelling miles can ever be the same again. The memory of the rapids, the steep hills and torturous paths, the aching backs and dry mouths, the burning sun and cold mist and rain, will forever remain in the mind.”The Dusi KingMany great paddlers have taken turns to dominate the Dusi over the years, but one rose above them all; known as the Dusi King and “The Pope”, Graeme Pope-Ellis recorded his first victory with Eric Clarke in 1972. He won for the last time with Tim Cornish in 1990.In those 19 races since 1972, Pope-Ellis had won 15 times and placed second on three occasions. Only a broken boat in 1979 had prevented him from achieving another top-two finish. He has completed the Dusi a record 44 times.The race regularly attracts well over 1 000 contestants nowadays, with the record standing at 2 127 in the first race of the new millennium.The Non-Stop DusiThe Non-Stop Dusi has also been introduced, reviving the tradition of the race as it was in its early days. Only the excellent, the brave – and sometimes the stupid – attempt the Non-Stop Dusi, which has taken over the mantle of “world’s toughest canoe race” from the three-day Dusi.It is interesting to note that Non-Stop Dusi competitors start and finish on the same day – a reflection on the extent to which training, equipment and support have changed since the first race in 1951.FISH RIVER CANOE MARATHONThe Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon was first held in 1982, when 77 competitors took part. In 2000 it attracted a record entry of 1 564 paddlers, ranking it among the five biggest canoe marathons in the world.One of the main attractions of the event is that it is held in Cradock in the Eastern Cape, a central location that makes the race accessible for participants from all over the country, not to mention those who travel from overseas.Another plus for the paddlers is that the river is artificially regulated, guaranteeing them challenging and exciting rapids, fast-flowing water and testing weirs.The Fish River Canoe Marathon takes place every year during the September school holidays – which sometimes means it happens in October!Coelacanth, Fish Eagle awardsAs with many long-distance events, people competing in 10 or more editions of the Fish River Canoe Marathon are recognised. While the Comrades Marathon has the much-prized green number, the Fish has the equally sought-after Coelacanth award. The even more prestigious Fish Eagle award is presented to paddlers who have completed 20 or more events.The event has regularly been awarded the South African Canoeing Marathon Championships, another indication of its standing as a fine, well-loved event.‘Twinned’ with the Avon DescentThe Fish has also been “twinned” with Australia’s famous Avon Descent, which is billed as “the world’s greatest wild water event”.The twinning agreement sees the winners of the two events being flown to take part in the twin event, and has led to stunning success for South Africans in the Perth race:Wayne Volek won in the K1 category in 2000, followed by Martin Dreyer in 2002, and Sven and Deon Bruss in the K2 category in 2003.Daryl Bartho scored successive K1 victories in 2004 and 2005, and Sven Bruss was the K1 champion and Daryl and Brett Bartho the K2 winners in 2007. In 2008, Barry Lewin was crowned the K1 winner in a record time.BERG RIVER CANOE MARATHONThe Berg River Canoe Marathon has been contested since 1961. It is an extremely tough challenge, taking place over four days and covering an astounding 228 kilometres, making it the longest race in South Africa.Compounding the challenge posed by the distance is the fact that the event takes place in winter – the weather can be a fierce opponent, not to mention the tricky nature of the river. The water tends to be fast-flowing, but the channels are narrow, and overhanging trees give another angle to the test.Due to the extreme test that the race poses, the size of the entry doesn’t approach the size of the fields in the Dusi and Fish River Canoe Marathons.The King of the BergFormer Springbok paddler Andre Collins is known as the King of the Berg. He has completed the event an astounding 40 times, a figure that has been matched by Giel van Deventer.Five-time champion Hank McGregor, who has won every big race there is to win in South African canoe marathon racing, as well as the World Marathon K1 Championships in 2003 and the Durban Surfski World Cup (twice), has often said that the Berg River Canoe Marathon is the toughest race in the world.Team raceIn an interesting innovation, the Berg introduced a professional team race in 2008, which employed an original and exciting format.Each team consists of three or four paddlers. To ensure that the competition is competitive, no team may include more than one paddler who has achieved top three places in the previous three editions of the race.The top three times are added together for a cumulative time, but that time can be reduced by one of the team’s paddlers winning “hotspots”, which are worth two minutes off the total time.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Meralco suspends Kelly Nabong

first_imgPhoto by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netKelly Nabong will not play for Meralco on Tuesday for Game 2 of its 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals series against Star.Bolts team manager Paolo Trillo relayed that the fifth-year center has been indefinitely suspended by the team after his brush with assistant coach Jimmy Alapag late in Game 1 last Sunday.ADVERTISEMENT “Kelly Nabong is suspended indefinitely for conduct unbecoming of a PBA player and for conduct detrimental to the team,” the executive shared in a statement.Nabong figured in an verbal spat against Alapag last Sunday. The two needed to separated in the Meralco bench.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutFrustrated, the bruiser was seen tearing his jersey as he sat at the far end of the bench at Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna before quickly making his exit after the Bolts pulled off the 72-66 victory against the Hotshots.The Fil-Am center was also the first man out of the Meralco dugout. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC San Beda evades upset, ousts Perpetual Read Next LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary MOST READ Makabayan bloc: Duterte suspension order on rice importation only a ‘media stunt’ PLAY LIST 02:46Makabayan bloc: Duterte suspension order on rice importation only a ‘media stunt’00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PHcenter_img Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president View comments LATEST STORIES Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight The Bolts shoot for a 2-0 lead against Star later today at Sta. Rosa Multipurpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. last_img read more

CWG: Gadkari targets PM, wants JPC probe

first_imgFile photo of BJP President Nitin Gadkari.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday alleged that the “highest political level” in the UPA government was involved in Commonwealth Games (CWG) irregularities and demanded an investigation by a joint parliamentary committee. “A joint parliamentary committee should be set up to expose those who gave political patronage (to the CWG scam). This scam has the involvement of people at the highest level,” Gadkari said. “The BJP demands that the probe should cover all agencies of the Centre and Delhi government involved (in CWG work),” he said. Gadkari said the Games preparations had seen a cost escalation of 17.5 times but the central ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) kept sanctioning the additional funds without verification. “The BJP wants to know who evaluated and okayed the budget escalations,” he said. The BJP chief alleged that contracts for the stadia and other constructions were given to selective contractors without checking their technical and financial credentials. “The estimates for the stadia were quoted 40-60 times higher and the technical norms tailormade to suit some contractors,” Gadkari said. He also alleged that thousands of crores meant for the welfare of Scheduled Castes were diverted to the Games and only Rs 300 crore out of the total expenditure of Rs 70,000 crore was used for the athletes. Calling the ongoing probe an “eyewash”, Gadkari said: “The prime minister spoke of taking action only a month before the Games when the irregularities started emerging while this corruption has been on for several years.” “The BJP demands that all files related to CWG be seized immediately as they can be tampered with. The Enforcement Directorate should be asked to look into FERA violations and give a report within a month. The CBI should finish its probe within three months,” Gadkari said. Gadkari’s charges came on a day when income tax authorities – as part of the CWG probe – conducted raids at several places in Delhi, including BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal’s home.advertisementlast_img read more

Veterans create history

first_imgIn this edition, Southern Suns’ Men’s 50’s player Michael McCall, who represented New South Wales in 1980, tells us about his memories. McCall, and three other players – the ACT’s Men’s 50’s Otto Karki, Gerry Brine and Garry Potter – took to the fields at Stockland Park on Wednesday morning, just two hours away from where it all began in 1980, to play in the National Touch League. McCall fondly remembers the first National Championships, held in Southport, Queensland, in December 1980. “It was a long time ago but it was all very new and no one was really sure (what was going to happen to the sport), and we we’re all ex league players. Touch was a new sport that had evolved out of a training run with League but it was a great experience, like Touch is,” McCall said. “I’ve got friends now that I played against in 1980 that I’m still friends with now so that’s the good part. The game’s evolved, it’s definitely got a lot quicker,” he said.“It was different, because no one knew what to expect or how long it was going to last.  That was the hardest part, like you represented your region or represented your state and you’d get excited but you really didn’t know where you were going to end up.”From there, McCall continued to play Nationals and hasn’t really looked back. “I just kept playing, I gave it away for a couple of years with other commitments like League where I had contracts where I couldn’t play but after that I was itching to get back and in 1985 I think (I came back) and kept going. I just loved the game, I thoroughly enjoyed it. This level is just that step up and you enjoy every game,” Mc Call said. Since the National Touch League started in 1997, McCall has only missed one tournament, and doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon. The chance to catch up with all the friends he’s made in Touch, as well as be able to compete in a competition at his age and his love for the sport, keeps McCall coming back year after year. “It’s a great sport and people ask me ‘why are you still doing it at our age because of all the injuries’ but I do it because I can. While I still enjoy it and can do it, I keep playing. There’s no look of retirement yet.”“The friendships in Touch, they are friendships for life. You might only see a friend once a year at NTL but the catch up is great…and talking about how good you were and how bad they were and so on, it’s the friendships you make and the teams you play with.”The National Touch League has become family affair for the McCall’s, with two of Michael’s daughters, Melissa and Jess, playing in the Women’s Open division. Jess recently returned from the successful Trans Tasman Series in New Zealand, where she was part of the Women’s Open side that beat the Kiwi’s 3-0. “I’m so proud of them, the three of them.  I’m lucky enough to have them all represent their state and Australia. They take after their mother thank god. My wife captained the New South Wales Women’s Open side back in the 1970’s,” McCall said. “I’m so proud of them, our youngest has just represented Australia …and I was just blown away it was great.”While McCall is humbled at the fact that he is one of only four players to compete at the first and the most recent Nationals as a player, it’s something he had never really thought about. “I never realised to tell you the truth, I’m humbled that I’ve been lucky enough to play and have longevity. It’s a bit of a feather on the cap, but the teams you play with, that’s more important than your personal stuff. It’s good to get a medal or something but when you do it with a bunch of 14 old blokes that’s good because that’s the beauty of it.” While it is most probably not as easy to back up game after game by the time a player reaches the Men’s 50’s division as it was earlier in their careers, McCall doesn’t look like stopping just yet. “At this level, it’s a different calibre of player naturally, we all just try our best at our age, we’re all over 50 and we just try our best and while we are trying it is good enough. If not, we just all go back and have a laugh and a beer, and don’t take ourselves too seriously. Winning is a bonus,” McCall said. Stayed tuned to the Touch Football Australia and National Touch League websites to read about the ACT Men’s 50’s trio, who all played together in the ACT Men’s Open side in 1980, and who are still playing in the one team this week.last_img read more