Pietermaritzburg - Defending K2 champion Sbonelo Khwela tops the list of
aspiring Dusi paddlers struggling to come to terms with a spate of injuries
to top contenders, with time running out ahead of the three-day paddling and
running adventure from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg to Durban’s Blue Lagoon in
four weeks’ time.
Euro Steel/Red Bull star Khwela’s bid to retain the K2 title that he won with
Andy Birkett hangs in the balance following injuries to both his first choice
partner, Banetse Nkhoesa, and his replacement, Nhlanhla Cele in the space of
“I don’t know what to do, I’m so confused at the moment!” said a bewildered
Khwela and fellow Shongweni resident and good friend Nkhoesa (Computershare
Change a Life Academy) had formed a formidable partnership that saw them clinch
victory in the Umpetha Challenge and second place in the Ozzie Gladwin.
A harrowing home intrusion and stabbing ordeal shortly before Christmas however
saw Nkhoesa hospitalised with serious injuries to his scapula, surrounding
muscles and lungs.
With Nkhoesa’s recovery time uncertain, Khwela was forced to explore alternate
options as both a short term training fix as well as a potential permanent Dusi
solution should Nkhoesa fail to fully recover in time.
The availability of 2015 Non-Stop Dusi winner Nhlanhla Cele - remarkably still
partnerless at the time of Nkhoesa’s tragic incident - appeared to ease
Khwela’s concerns though and the pair immediately looked to pick up from where
Khwela and Nkhoesa had left off.
This weekend saw disaster strike for a second time though when Cele dislocated
his shoulder five kilometres from the finish line of the second stage of the
Euro Steel Highveld Croc in Gauteng, his and Khwela’s first competitive outing
After completing the final few kilometres in excruciating pain, Cele’s trip to
a local medical facility to have his shoulder relocated saw doctors also
deliver some disappointing news.
“The doctors in Joburg said Nhlanhla will need to rest for three weeks for his
shoulder to recover,” said Khwela.
With Nkhoesa fortunate to be on the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation
backed Elite Athlete Development Programme and currently benefitting from
excellent support from Dr Kevin Subban at the Prime HPI facility at Moses
Mabhida Stadium, all hope of his recovery not all lost just yet.
However, as Nkhoesa continues to walk the pathway to recovery faster than most,
his plans of trying to push through a reduced lung capacity due to his stabbing
are under strain with the his latest return to strenuous training seemingly
taking its toll on his body.
“As Banetse tries to push hard, so his body gets weaker and so it seems he
still needs to rest,” said Khwela.
“On Monday Nhlanhla said he was feeling good and his shoulder was feeling
strong but now I don’t know what to think.
“For now I will keep thinking about my options and hopefully I will find some
answers soon, definitely before entries close on Wednesday, January 27!”
Another high profile, podium hopeful crew to have been impacted on by a
ill-timed shoulder dislocation is Kayak Center/Starsky’s Owen Gandar and Murray
Starr also suffered a similar feat to Cele this past weekend, this time while
competing in the Hi-Q Challenge at Albert Falls Dam.
“I tripped on a metal stake in the ground and went crashing to the ground,
landing pretty hard on my shoulder and it dislocated,” explained Starr.
“Fortunately it popped straight back in though so it wasn’t anything too
serious but we decided to end our race there and then to avoid doing any more
“A rest from paddling this week and then I should be back on the water though,”
The Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg to Blue
Lagoon, Durban from February 18-20, 2016.
More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za