Pietermaritzburg – Four time FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon champion Ant Stott has confirmed he is making a competitive comeback to canoeing and will start his 2016 FNB Dusi campaign with the Umpetha Challenge on Sunday 8 November with his new partner Carl Folscher.
Stott, who has two K1 titles and two K2 titles with Kelby Murray and Martin Dreyer in the FNB Dusi spanning a career of twenty years, looked to have raced his last serious Dusi when he was side-lined by a serious ankle injury two years ago.
Since then he has immersed himself in the sport of waveski paddling where he has been very successful, and made a social return to the Dusi last year when he completed the 120km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban with his mother Beth – largely as a thank-you for the decades of support during his racing career.
Stott resurfaced as a paddler in the spring when he made an unexpected return to one of his favourite races, the Lowveld Croc in Mbombela, which served to reignite his competitive paddling spirit.
“It was a much needed break, mentally more than physically,” said Stott. “I did a few sessions before the Croc and I really enjoyed doing the race. I just loved being competitive again, so I have decided to try and keep the ball rolling.”
Stott stressed that his commitments to his business and his family would severely curtail his training time, and he was adjusting his goals accordingly.
“I am training roughly half the amount that I was when I was really competitive,” said Stott, who won a World Marathon Championships K2 title with Cam Schoeman.
“But muscle memory is an amazing thing! It’s really helping me, but that can only get you so far. I reckon I’ll be looking at scraping somewhere between fifth and tenth when racing, and anything more than that will be a bonus,” said Stott.
“The competitiveness in me is something that I just can’t squash, so no matter how unfit I am, I am always going to push my hardest in a race,” Stott explained.
“It will be in the amount of training time that I will battle,” he added. “I think of myself as kind-of semi-competitive. It will be enough to be there but not quite at the front.”
Stott has committed to racing with Team Matelec/Popes Canoe Centre team mate Carl Folscher for the summer K2 season leading to the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon in mid-February, realising a partnership that the pair has planned for many years.
“We have spoken about this for a while now!
“Carl is a solid athlete and in my last few years as a competitive athlete he was always there and he had this strong tenacity to hang in, and I always liked that about him.
“He is tough, he is young, up-and-coming and hungry, so who better than to have a guy like that in the back of your boat! His job is to provide the energy to the engine, my job is to steer it,” said Stott.
Folscher said he was eager to learn as much as he could from Stott. The Stowell & Co/Gara athlete added that the Umpetha Challenge, being their first competitive outing together, may suit them as they both run year round, and the long Campbell’s Farm to Bishopstowe portage, that normally exposes the weaker runners, didn’t worry him.
“Running is something we do all year and we enjoy it,” said Folscher. “Putting a boat on our shoulders this early in the season is something new but I’m sure that we will be able to hang in with the other guys,” he added.
The Umpetha Challenge, which is run by the NCC Development team with the vigorous support of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation, takes in the first hour of the FNB Dusi course, and ends at Bishopstowe Hall at the top of the arduous Campbell’s Farm portage.
More information can be found at http://www.umpethachallenge.co.za