Birkett seeks fourth Dusi title
Andy Birkett wants a fourth consecutive title at the Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon, and says he has taken the best aspects from his previous three years of training to prepare.
"I have looked at my past training programmes, and I have tried to take what I like from each year. If you stop making changes, you stop improving, and I feel like I still have room to move forward," Birkett said on Wednesday.
Top paddlers are to line up and challenge for the title on February 14 in Pietermaritzburg. If he wins, Birkett will become the first paddler since 1977 to win four back-to-back Dusi titles.
In his quest, the Team Best 4 Kayak Centre will have to overcome a brutally tough field that includes former Dusi winners Ant Stott, Thulani Mbanjwa, Len Jenkins, and Hank McGregor.
Birkett shot to stardom with his Maritzburg College coach Jason Graham in 2010, when they outsmarted a strong field to clinch the K2 title.
Graham, who is 10 years older than Birkett, defied the pundits by retaining their K2 title last year in a lopsided win over Hank McGregor and Len Jenkins.
Meanwhile Birkett has steadily carved a place for himself in Dusi folklore, winning the K1 title in 2011, and then cementing that by winning on debut at the tough the Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi last year, where he won outright in a K1 kayak in another clinically executed strategy.