Zondi stretches Dusi lead

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Sbonelo_Zondi1 Gallo Images Sbonelo Zondi.

Durban – Overnight leader Sbonelo Zondi extended his advantage in the Dusi canoe marathon, but the bigger surprise came courtesy of a dramatic fall for defending champion Andy Birkett during the second stage at Hillcrest, outside Durban, on Friday.

Zondi crossed the line in an overall time of five hours, 43 minutes, 42 seconds (5:43:42) after the 48 kilometre second leg from Dusi Bridge to Inanda Dam, edging out Lance Kime (5:44:50) after both capitalised on a difficult day for the holder.

Reigning champion Birkett, 20 seconds behind after the first day, took over the lead within 10 minutes of the start, before twice having rudder problems and then enduring a fall at Tombi Rapid, two thirds of the way into the stage.

He was overtaken a little earlier at Nqumeni Hill Portage by Zondi, with Kime moving into second shortly after they passed that point of the race.

By the end of the stage, Zondi was more than a minute clear and became the first black paddler to lead on day two of the three-day race.

Hank McGregor, the 2005 champion, had quietly made his way up to third, in 5:46:55, after a storming second stage.

Birkett, bidding for a fourth consecutive title, was in fourth place in 5:49:19 and Thulani Mbanjwa (5:52:25) was lying fifth. – Sapa

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