Cradock – Popular Eastern Cape paddling icon Michéle Eray is holding thumbs that her miserable year and a quarter of paddling injuries will come to an end and allow her to be part of the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon on 5 and 6 October, a race that she describes as the greatest river race in the world.
Eray, who was a cornerstone of the South African women’s K4 that made their A final at the Beijing Olympics went on to achieve massive success as a river marathoner and surfski racer until she picked up a serious wrist injury from overuse midway through 2011.
The gutsy Plettenberg Bay star, who is also a professional biokineticist, battled to get her wrist to respond to treatment and only made her serious racing comeback with stunning victories in the Sella Descent in Spain and the Nelo Summer challenge surfski race in Portugal last month.
Her plans to race the Breede marathon as a final peak before heading for the world marathon championships in Rome in late September were scuttled when she picked up a flu bug and had to withdraw from that race at the eleventh hour.
A frustrated Eray said she is desperate to get back to her normal full racing schedule, particularly with the Hansa Fish in her home province just two weeks after the world marathon championships.
“Things are not really stacked in my favour, especially as I have a long roundabout trip to and from the worlds in Rome to deal with,” said Eray.
“It is a tough ask for anyone coming back from Rome to get up against for the Fish,” she added. “To be honest all I want is to be able to be part of it again. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines.”
Eray was the toast of the Eastern Cape when she partnered Robyn Kime to victory in the 2010 Fish, in the process becoming the first local paddler to claim the title since the late Daniel Conradie, who had mentored her into canoeing, won it in 1997.
Her plans to defend that title the following year fell apart when he wrist tendon injury failed to respond to rest after her impressive Berg victory last year.
The Hansa Fish takes place in Cradock on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 October 2012 and will decide the SA K1 River Championships. More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za