By Mark Etheridge
Top sprint kayaker Shaun Rubenstein has been battling more than his human opposition on waterways around the world for the last few weeks!
Rubenstein, who placed sixth in the K2 200-metre A-final at the World Sprint Championships in Halifax, Canada at the weekend, recently discovered that he has bilharzia.
“I only found out that I had bilharzia in the middle of July,” Rubenstein told Road to London, 2012 on Monday.
” I started the year off paddling really nicely but gradually started getting more and more fatigued in training and my level of intensity started dropping. I was disappointed with my mixed results that I had at the World Cup races earlier this year and then I really got tired at the SA marathon champs in June even though the pace wasn’t very fast.
“I eventually went for a blood test in the beginning of July to try and find out if something was affecting me and got the bilharzia result back. From my understanding of the bilharzia parasite, thats what causes you to be so lethargic and tired . Thats explains why my results got worse as the event got longer. My 200m races were good because that uses your anaerobic system the most but as you move up to 500m and 1000m races then the aerobic system gets used and the bilharzia affected that the most… well thats my theory at least… what I could feel happening to me.
But Rubenstein is experienced enough an athlete to take lessons forward. “I have learned a good lesson from this. As an athlete you never want to admit it when things arent going so well. We normally try ignore it and push through. If I had listened to my body then i would have caught the bilharzia much earlier. I am not sure exactly where i got it or when. I have treated it but the problem with bilharzia is that it can come back once you have had it, so I am going to have to be very strict about continuous blood tests to make sure that it doesnt come back again.”
Rubenstein will be hoping to be back to full strength soon as he has the World Marathon Championships to look forward to in the middle of September and will back in training once he has recovered from the travel jet lag.
The last time he raced the marathon discipline was three years ago … so it will be almost a new challenge for the Johannesburg based paddler.