Emerging Shongweni based paddling star Banetse Nkhoesa is on track to completing a near miraculous recovery from a serious shoulder and lung injury from a December stabbing incident and has the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation’s Elite Athlete Development Programme to thank for being able to take his place on the FNB Dusi start line on Thursday 18 February.
The 22-year-old Team Euro Steel star has been working closely with Dr Kevin Subban at the Prime Human Performance Institute over the past two months to try and get him to a level where he can be fit to compete at, arguably, the toughest canoe marathon in South Africa.
“I was contacted while I was overseas and was told that Banetse had been stabbed,” Dr Kevin Subban, the doctor for the South African Olympic team, said. “I didn’t know the extent of the injury until I got back to South Africa where I discovered that he had actually punctured his left lung.
“You never know if the lung is punctured until you take x-rays but the intensity of pain and the difficulty in breathing suggested this.”
The incident happened whilst Nkhoesa and his partner, 2014 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon winner, Sbonelo Khwela were well into their preparations for the 2016 event and Dr Subban was happy with how they were coming along until that fateful day.
“The two of them had been going really well before Banetse was stabbed and they were training hard at Prime and we were helping them with some small niggles that they had but this came as a serious shock to both of them,” Dr Subban added.
Lung functionality is critical in endurance sports and with the Dusi being such a physically demanding event having maximum lung functionality is an important part of being competitive over the three days of the race.
“We did a lung function test on him recently which measured according to height, weight, age etc. and you have a standard norm which for a person his age should be around 4.5 litres.
“He only came in at about four litres so we think that this lack of functionality is due to the puncture in his left lung.
“They say that one should start feeling better after around six weeks. You will still feel pain but the lung capacity improves but it could be a few months until he has the same functionality as he had before the accident,” explained Dr Subban.
Injuries are a big part of professional sport and the road to recovery serves up a number of different scenarios as well as the potential for self-doubt however Nkhoesa has taken it all in his stride and continues to impress in his recovery.
“Once an athlete gets injured the common reaction is that all is lost but with no guarantee with regards to the lung recovery he said he was going to give it 110 percent so I think the strength of his mental state has helped him to recovery so well,” he said.
With a six to eight week period within which a punctured lung should repair that was the distance from when the incident happened to the start of the 2016 FNB Dusi which has meant that Nkhoesa’s recovery has been exceptional.
“The start of the Dusi will be around the same time where you would start your rehabilitation but the one advantage that both Sbonelo and Banetse have is that they have put in the hard yards before.
“Their fitness levels were high which, to Banetse’s advantage, has helped him recover faster.
“We have been pushing him (Nkhoesa) for the last week and he has been coming through,” a happy Dr Subban stated.
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