Hungarian former world champion Attila Adrovicz has become the first Olympic canoeing medallist to enter The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon, and will race the three day classic from Pietermaritzburg to Durban starting on 16 February with Dusi veteran Rob Humphry.
The 46-year-old sprinter turned coach won the silver medal with the legendary Hungarian K4 team at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, after winning several world championship titles as both a junior and senior racer, before emigrating to South Africa seven years ago to take up a coaching position in Pietermaritzburg.
From the passionate world of flatwater sprinting Adrovicz quickly picked up the unusual place that The Unlimited Dusi occupies in South Africa sporting folklore, as the 61-year-old race captures the imagination of the sporting public at the beginning of every year.
His river racing career however only started a few months ago and the former world champion is quick to identify himself as a novice to the Dusi.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿”As a sprint coach and sprint athlete myself I am keen to taste the Dusi experience too,” said Adrovicz, who enlisted the experience of long-standing friend Humphrey, who has done 25 Dusis, to partner him and steer the boat.
They completed the recent The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin as part of their qualification for the Dusi.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ “Having lived in South Africa for seven years I now realize how special the race is to South Africans and the fact that even South Africa’s top sprinters like Len Jenkins, Shaun Rubenstein, Hank McGregor and Ant Stott love to do the Dusi,” he added.
Adrovicz is also keen to impress on the team of current Hungarian 200m sprint stars, who will be in South Africa for a training camp at the same time as The Unlimited Dusi, just what a tough event the Dusi is.
“It is one of the biggest, toughest river marathons in the world,” said Adrovicz. “They will see what type of athlete I am coaching, not just sprinters but great all round paddlers.”
For the brawny Adrovicz the training regime running with the canoe has been foreign, and taken some getting used to. ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿”Europeans mostly know flat water paddling like sprints and marathon, and wild water. The Dusi includes all of these as well as portaging which is very foreign to Europeans. But I have been training and running with the boat, and Rob and I recently did the Midmar Mini which has similar Dusi-type racing.”
The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon, Durban takes place on 16-18 February 2012.