Birkett’s name firmly in the Fish title hat
Birkett’s name firmly in the Fish title hat

Birkett’s name firmly in the Fish title hat

After a monumental performance at the recent ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships where he won gold in the men’s K1, Andy Birkett has put in a last-minute entry for the Fish River Canoe Marathon starting on Friday.

Birkett’s exploits in Portugal last week showed that he is far from finished on the international stage and it was his second international title after he won gold at the World Games in America a few months earlier.

With one Fish K1 title to his name Birkett’s form suggests that he is primed for a second this year. He will not have the usual competition as many paddlers have opted to stay in Portugal for the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships – also this week.

Birkett’s partner for his two K2 victories at the Fish Greg Louw will also be on the start line along with a number of other podium hopefuls.

Young Matthew Fenn has also made the trip from East London while there is a strong contingent of Citi Bank Change a Life paddlers heading down from KwaZulu-Natal along with the experienced Thulani Mbanjwa.

Birkett’s Dusi Canoe Marathon title winning partner David Evans has made the trip north from the Winelands along with the likes of Bartho Visser and Thomas Lovemore who have also made the journey from the Western Cape.

The Johannesburg contingent will provide a stern test for anyone looking for a podium finish with Clinton Cook, Wayne Jacobs and Siseko Ntondini amongst the hopefuls coming from Gauteng.

Another of those paddlers that made the journey back from Portugal to race in the Fish this weekend is Christie Mackenzie.

The Euro Steel star won bronze in the Under 23 women’s K1 race before she made the trip home and will be one of the top contenders going into the SA K1 River Championships this weekend.

Along with Mackenzie, Bridgitte Hartley will be out to defend her K1 title that she won in 2018 and she opted out of travelling to Portugal for the World Championships and will be ready to tackle the exciting two day race from Grassridge Dam to Cradock.

Another podium contender in the women’s race will be Tracey Oellermann while there will be a strong charge from the juniors in the field.

The strong field of paddlers will start the 48km first stage on Friday morning at Grassridge Dam to the overnight stop at Knutsford.

The Fish River Canoe Marathon takes place from 7-8 October.

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