EADP paddlers rack up Drak
Durban – The KZN Department of Sport and Recreation backed Elite
Athlete Development Programme, produced stellar results at the
first major river canoe marathon of 2018 when their athletes,
Andy Birkett and Jenna Ward, won their respective titles at the
N3TC Drak Challenge recently.
The 2018 event was unprecedented in terms of water levels with
the uMzimkulu’s level being the lowest it has ever been in the
25 years that the race has taken place. Despite these testing
conditions EADP athletes filled two of the top three spots in
both the men’s and women’s showdowns.
Ward, who finished third twice and second once in the previous
three editions of the Drak Challenge, finally broke her duck
when she dominated the second and final day to take the win over
a chasing Robyn Owen.
The Euro Steel star, who is targeting a maiden FNB Dusi Canoe
Marathon win in February, continues to be full of praise for the
EADP team that supports her constantly.
“The EADP is honestly one of the best kept secrets in Durban,”
she said. “The work that the trainers, doctors, physiotherapists
do behind the scenes in incredible and I know that the support
that they provide is crucial for me.
“I see Jarryd Rudolph twice a week every week and he is so
knowledgeable which means that I can concentrate purely on being
ready for my next race.
“After the 50 Miler the weekend before the Drak Challenge, I was
in the ice baths and going through recovery so I could be ready
for Drak this past weekend.”
In recent years the EADP has supported a number of the nation’s
best marathon paddlers, whether it be flat-water or river
marathons with the likes of Ward, Dusi superstar Andy Birkett,
multiple World Champion Hank McGregor and Olympic bronze
medallist Bridgitte Hartley.
“I know that Jarryd works with a lot of paddlers at Prime but we
are all looked after individually.
“We have training programmes set up to cater to our needs. This
individual care from our trainers gives us that edge when it
comes to racing.
“I do feel that being on the programme definitely gives us the
edge over the rest of the competitors and the professional
approach gives us the upper hand,” Ward added.
Coming home in third in the ladies race was fellow EADP athletes
Bridgitte Hartley while the young Christie Mackenzie, who was
the first Under 23 lady, finished in fourth. These results meant
that the EADP occupied three of the top four positions.
The men’s race produced just as impressive results with Andy
Birkett taking home is fifth Drak title in a row. He equalled
Ant Stott’s record of five wins.
Finishing behind him was the ever-green Hank McGregor who was
just over three minutes behind Birkett. Coming home in sixth
overall, at a race he doesn’t see as his strength, was Sbonelo
Director of the high Performance at Prime HPI Dennis Jackson explains the role that the
programme plays in preparing paddlers, and other athletes, for
the busy river marathon season that they find themselves in.
“The EADP provides athletes with funding for High Performance
Testing, Training and medical needs. This can be used for
appropriate recovery and maintenance sessions,” Jackson
“The EADP paddlers, as well as KZNCU have been utilising many of
the facilities and practitioners available at Prime HPI, in
particular, the altitude chamber, sports physicians,
biokineticists, physiotherapists and ice baths to get the most
out of their training and recovery sessions in the build up to
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