Sbonelo Khwela bagged two important wins in key Dusi seeding races on the weekend to show that he has shrugged off a week of setbacks and proved that his dreams of a Dusi K1 title this year are well on track.
Khwela, who won his first Dusi title last year in the K2 race with Euro Steel’s Andy Birkett, first grabbed the overall honours in a well-supported TWK Dash ‘n Crash race on Saturday that takes in the first eight kilometres of the Dusi course, before winning Sunday’s Campbell’s Farm to Dusi Bridge race, a key Dusi indicator which covers the second half of the Dusi first stage including the tough Guinea Fowl portage.
The brace of wins are a welcome boost for the Euro Steel/Red Bull athlete (pictured above) who was forced to rest for much of last week after picking up a shoulder injury from overtraining before his local training ground, Shongweni Dam, was also ruled a no-go zone after a sewerage spill from one of its feeder rivers rendered it unusable by canoeists.
In the popular TWK Dash ‘n Crash K1 race Khwela was locked in a needle tussle with defending Dusi K1 champion Lance Kime and the duo entered the tight Musson’s Weir rapid side by side. Kime got entangled in vegetation in the exit, paving the way for Khwela to scamper away to the finish line less than a kilometre away and claim the win.
On Sunday a big field of Dusi hopefuls took advantage of the Henley Dam water release from the day before to race the Campbell’s Farm to Dusi Bridge race, which is a good pre-Dusi form indicator as it includes hallmark portages and some technical river sections.
Khwela managed to hold off Build it/Williams Hunt’s Thulani Mbanjwa, one of the so-called “Fantastic Four” being touted as potential Dusi champions this year, to claim his second scalp of the weekend.
The racing on the weekend did not include five times World Marathon Champion Hank McGregor, who won the SA K1 title on the Two-Day Klip race in Gauteng, and four times Dusi Champ Andy Birkett who opted not to race these races.
On the women’s front Laura O’Donaghue showed how far advanced her Dusi training is by winning the TWK Dash ‘n Crash K1 title and comfortably taking the Campbell’s Farm to Dusi Bridge race in an excellent 23rd position overall.
The weekend’s races were also a triumph for Martin Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy paddlers who dominated the top 10 standings in all of the races, boding well for a strong Dusi performance from the Valley of a Thousand Hills based outfit.
Change a Life’s Mpilo Zondi took the TWK Dash ‘n Crash K1 junior’s race ahead of Michaelhouse’s Alan Houston while Msawenkosi Mtolo took the Under 18 honours in Sunday’s longer race with Houston again runner up.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – DUSI CANOE MARATHON SEEDING RACES
TWK DASH ‘N CRASH K1
1 Sbonelo Khwela 37:48.53
2 Nkosi Cele 37:53.86
3 Banesti Nkhoesa 37:56.50 (U23)
4 Thulani Mbajwa 38:18.69
5 Lance Kime 38:26.03
6 Mhlonishwa Hlongwane 38:32.83
7 Mpilo Zondi 38:34.11 (U18)
8 Adrian Boros (HUN) 38:35.88
9 Alan Houston 38:45.63 (U18)
10 Mmeli Cele 39:04.24 (U23)
1 Laura O’Donaghue 41:20.08
2 Hilary Bruss 43:44.22
3 Cana Peek 43:45.44 (U18)
4 Donna Tutton 45:31.67
5 Natasha Bulbring 45:53.85
TWK DASH ‘N CRASH K2
1 Mhlonnishwa Hlongwane/Nqobile Makhanya 35:39.91
2 Adrian Boros/Brandon Orpwood 36:39.82
3 Thabani Msiya/Msawenkosi Mtolo 36:41.41
4 Carl Folscher/Matthew Collins 38:07.04
5 Andy Birkett 38:52.67
6 Thomas Lovemore/Jonno Wing 40:02.13
7 Ewald Thole/Gary Behn 41:06.34
8 Sandy Inglis/Craig Norris 41:09.90
9 Tsephang Elephant/Nkosikhona Mabaso 41:32.37
10 Shaun Dias/Steve Wearne 41:46.37
1 Christie Mackenzie/Jamie-Lee Robertson 43:24.11 (U18)
2 Brittany Eayers/Amy Peckett 51:28.78 (U16)
3 Gina Ciesman/Angela Scruby 51:55.57
4 Stacey Green/Kirsten Bold 57:48.47 (U18)
5 Katerine Barry/Linda Sithole 58:23.87 (U18)
CAMPBELL’S FARM TO DUSI BRIDGE
1 Sbonelo Khwela 1:37:10.39
2 Thulani Mbanjwa 1:37:11.72
3 Zonele Nzuza 1:40:26.31
4 Banesti Nkhoesa 1:41:49.86
5 Mhlonishwa Hloingwane 1:42:49.21
6 Msawenkosi Mtolo 1:43:06.22
7 Mthobisi Cele 1:43:39.21
8 Kwanda Mhlope 1:43:40.41
9 Sboniso Shozi 1:43:53.94
10 Jacques Theron 1:45:46.37]
1 Laura O’Donaghue 1:51:47.6
2 Cana Peek 2:04:42.30 (u18)
3 Hilary Bruss 2:11:15.23
4 Natasha Bulbring 2:19:05.39
5 Jessica Dicks 2:24:47.94
Picture by Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media