Czech champions fired up for Hansa Powerade Fish
Czech Republic champion canoeists Tomáš Slovák and Robert Knebel will be mounting a strong challenge for the 2010 Hansa Powerade Fish river canoe marathon, in a bid to become the first international athletes to lift the prized title.
Both have wild water and marathon racing pedigrees that have made them pacesetters in Europe for the past decade, and after their first taste on the two day race in the Eastern Cape last year, the duo are aiming to combine to pose a serious threat to the K2 championship race this year.
The duo both live in the small time of Olomouc, 300km to the East of Prague, one of Europe’s wild water racing capitals, where they passionately train and manage a wide range of canoeing disciplines.
Both got their first taste of action in the Hansa Powerade Fish marathon last year, where Knebel finished a solid fifth, and Slovák bouncing back from early setbacks to finish twelfth.
Both are bullish about their chances in a double kayak together, particularly know that they know how the 82km race is contested.
“Last year it wasn’t an easy race!” said Slovák . “And I absolutely know that it will be just as tough this year, but hopefully we will have a bit more luck in the same boat.”
Knebel struggled through the nasty rapid Keith’s Flyover during last year’s race, and like German ace Max Hoff, he collided with the right hand bank halfway down the rapid and the fifteen time European wild water champ needed all his skill to spin around and complete the rapid backwards.
Both walked away from the 2009 event having earned the respect of the local paddling community, and committed to returning in the right shape to challenge for a podium place in the K2 race.
“I knew from my the first race on the Fish river that I wanted to come back again!” said Slovák. “The good thing about our race this year is that we know the river now, and we really want to do our best in the double together.”
“But the best part about this race is that we get the chance to meet wonderful people around Fish river!” he added.
Slovák has been hugely successful since last year’s race. He grabbed four medals at the wild water world championships and went on to win a spate of major marathon races, emerging the overall champion of the European marathon tour last year. “I’m older now and I’m enjoying marathon racing more and more,” he said.
The crew of Knebel and Slovák will join the potent German combination of Max Hoff and Stefan Stiefenhofer, and the French Fish debutants Loic Vinysale and Quentin Bonnetain to make up the International Team to this year’s Hansa Powerade Fish.
The Hansa Powerade Fish river canoe marathon takes place in Cradock on 1 and 2 October. More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za