Nervous times for FNB Dusi top tenners
Pietermaritzburg – Defending K2 champion Sbonelo Khwela tops the list of
aspiring FNB Dusi paddlers struggling to come to terms with a spate of
injuries to top contenders, with time running out ahead of the three day
paddling and running adventure from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg to
Durban’s Blue Lagoon in four weeks’ time.
Euro Steel/Red Bull star Khwela’s bid to retain the K2 title that he won
with Andy Birkett hangs in the balance following injuries to both his first
choice partner, Banetse Nkhoesa, and his replacement, Nhlanhla Cele in the
space of four weeks.
“I don’t know what to do, I’m so confused at the moment!” said a bewildered
Khwela and fellow Shongweni resident and good friend Nkhoesa (Computershare
Change a Life Academy) had formed a formidable partnership that saw them
clinch victory in the Umpetha Challenge and second place in the Ozzie
Gladwin presented by Parklane Superspar.
A harrowing home intrusion and stabbing ordeal shortly before Christmas
however saw Nkhoesa hospitalized with serious injuries to his scapula,
surrounding muscles and lungs.
With Nkhoesa’s recovery time uncertain, Khwela was forced to explore
alternate options as both a short term training fix as well as a potential
permanent Dusi solution should Nkhoesa fail to fully recover in time.
The availability of 2015 Non-Stop Dusi winner Nhlanhla Cele – remarkably
still partnerless at the time of Nkhoesa’s tragic incident – appeared to
ease Khwela’s concerns though and the pair immediately looked to pick up
from where Khwela and Nkhoesa had left off.
This weekend saw disaster strike for a second time though when Cele
dislocated his shoulder five kilometers from the finish line of the second
stage of the Euro Steel Highveld Croc in Gauteng, his and Khwela’s first
competitive outing together.
After completing the final few kilometers in excruciating pain, Cele’s trip
to a local medical facility to have his shoulder relocated saw doctors also
deliver some disappointing news.
“The doctors in Jo’burg said Nhlanhla will need to rest for three weeks for
his shoulder to recover,” said Khwela.
With Nkhoesa fortunate to be on the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation
backed Elite Athlete Development Programme and currently benefitting from
excellent support from Dr Kevin Subban at the Prime HPI facility at Moses
Mabhida Stadium, all hope of his recovery not all lost just yet.
However, as Nkhoesa continues to walk the pathway to recovery faster than
most, his plans of trying to push through a reduced lung capacity due to his
stabbing are under strain with the his latest return to strenuous training
seemingly taking its toll on his body.
“As Banetse tries to push hard, so his body gets weaker and so it seems he
still needs to rest,” said Khwela.
“On Monday Nhlanhla said he was feeling good and his shoulder was feeling
strong but now I don’t know what to think.
“For now I will keep thinking about my options and hopefully I will find
some answers soon, definitely before entries close on Wednesday, 27
Another high profile, podium hopeful crew to have been impacted on by a
ill-timed shoulder dislocation is Kayak Center/Starsky’s Owen Gandar and
Starr also suffered a similar feat to Cele this past weekend, this time
while competing in the Hi-Q Challenge at Albert Falls Dam.
“I tripped on a metal stake in the ground and went crashing to the ground,
landing pretty hard on my shoulder and it dislocated,” explained Starr.
“Fortunately it popped straight back in though so it wasn’t anything too
serious but we decided to end our race there and then to avoid doing any
“A rest from paddling this week and then I should be back on the water
though,” he added.
The FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg
to Blue Lagoon, Durban from 18-20 February 2016. More
information can be found at www.dusi.co.za