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‘Queen’ back in SA

The race for the women’s title in The Unlimited Dusi canoe race that starts in Pietermaritzburg on 16 February has been thrown wide open by the surprise announcement that Canadian based Abbey Ulansky will jet back to South Africa to defend her K2 title with Robyn Kime.

Kime had planned to race with Plettenberg Bay star Michele Eray in The Unlimited Dusi, but the Olympian has been battling with a crippling wrist tendon injury that has failed to respond to treatment in time to allow her to train for the three day race from Camps Drift to Blue lagoon, and she reluctantly advised Kime that she had better look for another partner.

Kime and Ulansky won the last women’s K2 Dusi title together in 2010, and were re-united for what looked to be a once-off nostalgic collaboration at the recent The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin, where they finished second to the classy Howick twins Abbey and Alex Adie, who are still the front runners for this year’s Dusi women’s title.

“When Michele (Eray) told me that she couldn’t do Dusi I had to make another plan,” said Kime. “I really enjoyed my paddle with Robs (Ulanksy) when she was back in SA to show her new baby to her family, and I bombed off an email to her to see if there was any chance of her coming out to do the Dusi, and held my thumbs.”

Kime’s new Team Best 4 Kayak Centre management then stepped in and agreed to fly Ulansky in for the race, and make her┬á a member of the team for The Unlimited Dusi.

“This is the kind of support that makes the world of diference to an athlete,” said Kime once she got the reply email from Canada confirming that Ulansky was enthusiastic, and efforts shifted to practical arrangements to get her, her husband Chad and young child to South Africa to start the season’s pre-Dusi races.

“I am naturally very honoured to be a part of the Team Best 4 Kayak Centre,” said Ulansky from her home in Kelowna in Canada.

“The Kayak Centre team that I was part of always treated me so well and we have great relationship professionally and socially, so I can’t wait to make a contribution to the new team.”

The Adie twins have been the new season’s pacesetters in the women’s race, posting impressive victories in The Unlimited Ozzie Gladwin, the season’s first Dusi seeding race. With the Kime/Ulansky combination now confirmed, the ante in the women’s race has been substantially raised, setting the scene for a thriller of a showdown for the women’s title in February.

Ulansky earned the title “The Dusi Queen” under her maiden name Abbey Miedema prior to her marriage to Canadian ultra-athlete Chad Ulansky. She won four consecutive K1 titles between 2003 and 2009, interspersed with K2 victories with Alexa Cole in 2006 and 2008, before winning the 2010 K2 title with Kime in an emphatic performance.

She learnt her skills as a Dusi racer under the tutelage of the late Dusi King Graeme Pope-Ellis and became meticulous in her planning and scouting of the race course, and a wily tactician capable of maintaining a dogged momentum throughout the 120km race to drive a wedge between herself and the other female crews.

The Unlimited Dusi takes places between Pietermaritzburg and Durban from 16-18 February. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za and www.teambest4.co.za


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