Eight-time World Champion Hank McGregor returns to this year’s Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon on 7 and 8 October brimming with confidence after his double gold medal haul at the recent Canoe Marathon World Championships in Germany.
With ten days between his return to South Africa on Monday and the mouth-watering annual Eastern Cape assignment, McGregor is now fully focused on adjusting from flat water to river racing and readying himself for the event he had won six times previously.
“I’m happy to be home and it’s always especially nice to come back with a couple of wins,” explains McGregor.
“Going to Worlds and retaining my title was obviously a big focus of mine for the last little while but now that that job is done, it’s good to come home and still be able to look forward to the Fish.
“With a guaranteed water release and great vibe, Fish is one of the biggest and possibly the best paddling races in South Africa and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” he adds.
The 38 year-old global paddling icon overcame the best in the world in mid-September in Germany to claim a his sixth K1 Worlds crown, equalling Spanish marathon ace Manuel Busto’s record for most individual World titles.
He and Jasper Mocké then claimed the hard-fought gold medal in the K2 clash just a day later before McGregor and good friend and business partner Lee Furby tackled the Liffey Descent in Ireland a week later where the pair finished fifth.
Arriving home having managed to avoid any commonly problematic travel-related health issues, McGregor believes he is in good shape and is looking forward to the upcoming Hansa Fish challenge.
“I’m fit, travelled healthily and feeling content with my double World title effort so I’m looking forward to the Fish.
“As always, the Fish is going to be extremely competitive and the field will be world class so the Fish title is up for grabs for everyone, just as much as it is for me.
“Things are never cut and dried at the Fish; anything can happen on the day and even the best can fall.
“Hopefully I’m up for a good race come race day and can just go out there and give it my best shot.”
While preferring not to glance too carefully at the record books prior to the race’s conclusion, should he cross the finish line at Cradock Sports Complex on Saturday 8 October first and clinch his seventh title at the event, McGregor will equal regular rival and ‘Fisher King’ Len Jenkins’ record for most Hansa Fish wins.
“I’m not a big stats man before a race, but I guess that sort of pressure comes with the territory and I suppose one day, once I’ve hung up my paddles, it will be nice to be able to look back and reflect on my achievements.
“It was nice to match Busto’s World Champs record while I was in Germany and now we’ll just have to see how things go at the Fish next weekend.”
The 2016 Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon takes place from Grassridge Dam to Cradock Sports Complex on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 October.