Other Sport

Zondi leads Dusi after Day 1

2013-02-14 12:44
Dusi (File)

Pietermaritzburg - Unfancied Sbonelo Zondi sprung a surprise on the opening day of the Dusi canoe marathon, edging ahead of pre-race favourite Andy Birkett to win the first stage outside Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.

The 24-year-old claimed victory between Camps Drift and Dusi Bridge in a record time of two hours, 43 minutes, 17 seconds (2:43:17), 39 seconds faster than the previous best and 20 seconds ahead of Birkett, the three-time reigning champion.

"I’m really happy about the result, especially here in the valley and so close to my home," said Zondi, who hails from the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

"I didn’t know I was on for the record and breaking that is even more pleasing."

Along with Birkett, the pair were among a dozen paddlers who made an early break, before they flew even further ahead in a four-man breakaway alongside Lance Kime and Thulani Mbanjwa near Campbells Farm Portage.

Zondi then hit the front at Guinea Fowl Takeout and never looked back in the 42 kilometre opening stage.

"Today the race went according to plan. I told myself from the start that I had to stick to my own race," he said.

"The lead group was big early on and I knew it was going to be a long day, but I told myself I will stick to the plan.

"Martin Dreyer (his coach) told me that Andy is already over a minute ahead of me at one stage, but I didn’t panic and drew on the training I did.

"I paced myself well until I caught the guys at Guinea Fowl. I kept my composure from there, put the hammer down and managed to hold my own, despite Andy coming back."

Birkett, who held the previous record for stage one from 2011, was bidding to add to the K1 title he won that year and the two K2’s that sandwich his victory two years ago.

"I knew before the start of the race that Zondi was going to be one of the strongest paddlers," Birkett said.

"When we got to Guinea Fowl and he ran past me, I knew he would be the man to chase down till the finish."

The 23-year-old also felt that the race leader, one of the stronger runners in the field, had improved considerably in the boat over the past 12 months.

"I was very impressed with Eric’s (Zondi’s) paddling," Birkett said.

"I thought I could catch him on the water, but he was paddling really well, which shows how strong he is this year.

"He is definitely strong enough to be Dusi champion."

Kime, considered one of the dark horses for the 62nd edition of the world's largest and most famous race of its kind, crossed the line third in 2:45:26.

Mbanjwa, Zondi's more heralded K2 partner and one of the pre-race favourites, was fourth in 2:50:52, ahead of 2005 champion and another fancied paddler, Hank McGregor (2:51:03).

In the women's race, Robyn Kime, who like Birkett was bidding for a fourth successive crown, eased to victory in a record time of 3:11:21, almost three minutes faster than the old stage one record.

Her first stage performance was almost 15 minutes quicker than Abby Adie, who was second in 3:25.15, while Bianca Haw took third place in 3:26.45.

"No lead is completely comfortable in the Dusi," Robyn Kime said.

"Things can go wrong and so I'll have to push very hard again tomorrow to maintain my advantage."

FLASH RESULTS
SUMMARY OF RESULTS

1.Sbonelo Zondi 2:43;17 (New record)
2.Andy Birkett 2:43:37
3.Lance Kime 2:45:26
4.Thulani Mbanjwa 2:50:52
5.Hank McGregor 2:51:03
6.Len Jenkins 2:55:20
7.Zonele Nzuza 2:55:27
8.Loveday Zondi 2:56:51
9.Carl Folscher2:56:52
10.Jason Graham 2:57:07
11.Ant Stott 2:58:13
12.Jakub Adam 2:58:14
13.Nhlanhla Cele 2:59:35
14.Cam Schoeman 3:00:59
15.Thomas Ngidi 3:01:21
16.Lucas Mthalane 3:01:36
17.Siseko Ntondini 3:02:12
18.Michael Odvarko 3:02:13
19.Mmeli Cele 3:02:23
20.Jacques Theron 3:04:47

Women

1.Robyn Kime 3:11:21 (New record)
2.Abby Adie 3:25:15
3.Bianca Haw (U18) 3:26:45
4.Hilary Pitchford 3:32:00
5.Jen Theron 3:33:29
6.Jordan Peek 3:46:13
7.Jenna Ward 3:59:50
8.Brittany Petersen 4:02:31
9.Debbie Lewis 4:03:39
10.Di Reitz 4:15:37

NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
Vote

How much of a runner are you?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.