Multisport aids local rugby

Hale and hardy . . . Eventual Ken Milne Classic individual triathlon winner Mark Watt, of Balclutha, emerges from the Clutha River swim stage of the multisport event in Balclutha on Saturday. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

Balclutha’s ‘‘big river’’ thrashed with fins of the rubber variety on Saturday morning, as competitors in the Ken Milne Classic multisport event took to the water for an initial 800m river swim.

Race organiser Keely Teunissen — also participating as a team swimmer — said conditions for the event commemorating the town’s former rugby coach were perfect.

She said she was delighted to see more than 100 athletes taking part this year, following a Covid-19-enforced furlough last February.

‘‘There are more people than ever taking part this year, which is great.

‘‘Ken Milne was a very special person, who would always ask you what you’d been doing lately when he saw you.

‘‘Only he meant what activity had you been doing, because Ken was all about sports participation. He didn’t care what you did, as long as you did something.’’

Mr Milne died from a brain tumour in 2012, but lived to see the event named in his honour undergo its first outings, Mrs Teunissen said.

‘‘He was such an inspiration to people, so it’s great he got to see his event.’’

The event doubled as a local fundraiser, this year going towards refurbishment of the Clutha Rugby Club’s facilities.

‘‘We’ve had quite an increase of interest in women’s rugby locally, so we’re going to contribute to refurbishments to help better accommodate new teams.’’

Young team competitor Sam Affleck (15) said she had enjoyed her first ever Clutha River swim, despite feeling some initial nerves.

‘‘It was a bit cold at first, but then you’re just focused on getting to the end. I’m glad I did it, and would definitely do it again now.’’