Hansa-Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon record-breaking pair, Michael Mbanjwa and his partner, Martin Dreyer received a heroes' welcome at Mbanjwa's home in The Valley of Thousand Hills on Saturday afternoon.
Mbanjwa, who has been confident about a possible win - indeed, with the help of Dreyer - became the first black paddler to win this popular race. They clocked 7:33;04 and thus broke the record by 15 minutes.
The pair led the race from day one and went on to win in the third day.
The soft-spoken Mbanjwa said he dedicated his win to the legendary Robert Lembethe, who introduced him to the sport 10 years ago. Lembethe died in 2006.
"I hope he can see what is happening. He wanted us to do well and I think I did not disappoint. I am thrilled that we managed to win. It was not easy but it was worth it," he said.
Marathon CEO of Chemspec, Strath Wood, personally flew Mbanjwa and Dreyer in his private helicopter to Mbanjwa's traditional home.
"It was absolutely amazing and very emotional. As we landed, hundreds of people came from different directions to his kraal to hug the heroes. Both paddlers were carried shoulder high amid cheering and ululating.
"This is a moment that we, as organisers, have looked forward to for a number of years and is a fitting tribute to our development initiatives," said Ray de Vries, spokesman for the event.
Wood said: "It was a pleasure and an honour to fly him in my helicopter to his home. Thousands of people were at the finish and witnessed the moment, but I wanted Michael to see his family and friends and give them the news first hand. They were absolutely elated. The vibe was electric and I was amazed at how many people already knew of their favourite sons' history- making win."