Don’t you hate it when you are bursting with news, and you enthusiastically hammer away at the keyboard for an entire paragraph, only to find, when you look up for the first time, that you have the “caps lock” on. Just saying!!!!!
The choice is yours. Either a big cup of coffee now, or something a bit stronger later on. Either way, it is going to be a long one.
The Fish has come and gone. All too soon.
For many of us the Fish is far more than a race, it is an annual pilgrimage. A “constant” in the year that helps us to hang on, while much around us appears to be sliding down the slippery slope.
The decreased budget of the organisers has led to a slight downscaling of the festivities which seems to have resulted in the return of some of the old “values” of the race.
From a racing perspective, we couldn’t have asked for a more exciting scenario. Both the men’s and women’s races featuring two boats going head to head until the very closing stages. Stu and Jasper having to work for their gold, while Jen and Kyeta were gifted it, care of a swim at Craddock weir by Bridgitte and Christie. All four boats very gracious in their defeat/victory.
For the rest of us plonkers it was just great to experience some clean, fast flowing water, and an opportunity savour the unspoilt karoo.
Once again, the small band of local organisers put on a great event
Spare a thought for paddlers like Hank and Bridgitte who had just returned from the ICF World Ocean Racing Championships, raced the Fish, and are leaving this week to fly to China to participate in the ICF World Marathon Championships.
Don’t make too many plans for next weekend. We have too many paddlers who are “in with a shout”. The live streaming is going to be a “must see”.
11-times world champ, Hank McGregor’s retirement from K1 paddling last year solicited a massive dollop of FOMO. Being forced into a commentary box with Oscar led to a certain amount of emotional scarring, resulting in a return to K1 racing this year.
He will be joined by current world champion, Andy Birkett who has chosen to avoid distractions and concentrate on a single goal in his build up to the event.
This year will be the first time that a world marathon championships has been hosted in China. It is also the first time that the masters will be racing in a world championships in the K1 category.
In previous years, the masters race was only given the status of world cup. Another first will be the inclusion of the short course at a world championships.
We have so many talented paddlers wearing the green and gold.
Notwithstanding the obvious hopes of medals from Andy and Hank, we have potential to medal in almost all of the categories.
Naming my medal favourites would be inappropriate. I would dig a big hole for myself. I might just do as I did last year and put them into a sealed envelope.
Besides the mass exodus of our marathon paddlers, this weekend sees the hosting of two other major paddling events. In KZN, the final in the “Da Real” downwind series, the 50km Waterman, will be taking place from Durban to Tinley Manor, and in the far North, paddlers will be negotiating their way down the Crocodile River in the Lowveld. Entries for the Croc have been extended to today.
Both Hank and Bridgitte have been nominated for the KZN Sports Personality of the year. The award is presented, based on a public vote. Votes close at midnight tomorrow. Have a look at the image to find out how to vote!
At the last ICF congress it was mooted that there be a change in the age group categories from U23 to U21. This will be voted on at the next ICF congress to be held next year. The ICF has sent out a survey to each federation asking for comment. Our disciplines have been debating the issue at length. There have been some interesting viewpoints.
If you have strong feelings on the matter, please do not hesitate to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The social media junkies amongst you will, no doubt, be aware of the storm that is currently raging around the issue of SASCOC forcing us to hand back the ICF continental quota that we qualified at the African Games in Morocco.
In effect, this means that the two South African slots that have been awarded by the International Canoe Federation to CSA to compete in next year’s Olympic Games, have had to be handed back. They have now been allocated to countries who were well beaten by us at the continental selection event.
Notwithstanding the unfairness of the decision, much of the content of the posts is emotive and lacking in fact.
Here is the actual story.
All sports have a qualification process whereby athletes are awarded the right to compete in the Olympic games. The IOC decides on the number per sport. Each international federation then decides how they will allocate their quota.
The ICF has a relatively complex qualifying system due to the number of distance events and the split between C boats and K boats, also allowing for gender parity.
Direct qualification is accomplished through various events (mainly the world championships of the year before).
In order to ensure universality at the games, a limited number of slots are awarded to continents. These slots are decided at a continental selection event.
The continental event for this Olympic period was the African Games held in Morocco at the end of August where South Africa made a clean sweep of all the gold medals on offer, except for one.
As a result of these performances, South Africa was awarded two slots to compete in the Olympics (note that the award of this quota is to the federation and not to the specific athlete who actually qualified the spot).
One of the slots that we qualified for was a women’s K2. This would have meant that we could have sent three paddlers to the games.
The acceptance of the quota is done by the national Olympic committee. In our case, SASCOC. In previous Olympic cycles, SASCOC has rejected, out of hand, any continental qualification.
After lengthy negotiation over the past few years, SASCOC formulated a policy whereby they would consider continental qualification, subject to criteria that would be negotiated with each federation.
Well before the selection event in Morocco, SASCOC provided us with a draft agreement containing the criteria that they had formulated. In conjunction with the sprint committee, we returned the agreement with suggested changes, requesting a softening of the criteria, which we viewed as too stringent. SASCOC rejected our request and we were forced to sign the agreement.
Notwithstanding the unfairness of the criteria, all of our athletes were well aware of what was required of them at the World Championships in Szeged and the African Games in Morocco.
Unfortunately, although they came close, none of them satisfied the criteria.
When the ICF granted us the quota, we immediately appealed to SASCOC to review their decision to stick to the rigid criteria that they had imposed. They rejected our plea.
So, irrespective of what is deemed to be fair or right, SASCOC had a signed agreement with our federation. They did not make any snap decision to disallow our athletes the opportunity to compete.
You will also notice that it is not the athletes themselves who have started the media storm.
In the interim, CSA, together with a number of other federations, has requested an urgent special general meeting with SASCOC to discuss this issue.
Setting the bar as high as SASCOC has done, coupled with the absolute lack of support for our high performance athletes, is a sure fire way of killing the sport. Something needs to be done.
The dire financial state of high performance sport in this country is a reflection of the importance that our government places on this aspect of our lives. They do this while bleeding billions to mismanaged and corrupt SOE’s.
On a happier note, CSA has a new sprint chairman. After months of no rudder, the committee now has a leader in the form of Greg Van Heerden. Greg is no stranger to canoeing high performance and is one of the leading coaches in the country.
On a quick departing note, please remember that entries to the Pete Marlin will be closing soon. Don’t forget to reserve your spot for the best surfski weekend in the country.