The 2023 SA Schools and SA Sprint Championships at the Victoria Lake Club were a resounding success with various paddlers now shifting their focus to international competition starting this weekend in Szeged.
Paddlers across all age groups gathered in Gauteng for this year’s championships with a number of different qualification targets as Canoeing South Africa used the event to pick teams across the various international sprint events coming up.
The racing age groups ranged from Under 8 in the boy’s category and under 10 in the girl’s division all the way to the seniors who were out to book an all-important spot on the various national teams.
“We’ve got another massive year of international competition for the spinters this year and these championships were a great way to kick-start the season,” President of Canoeing South Africa Kim Pople said.
“There are several international regattas that we want to send our paddlers to and with the Olympic Games next year this is a vital year for qualification for Paris.
“The emphasis on sprint paddling can be seen by the numbers that we hosted at the SA Championships and well done to all the organisers involved on hosting such a brilliant event.”
There were impressive performances from the various age categories and paddlers qualified for the Junior and U23 Sprint World Championships, the Olympic Hopes Regatta, the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup, the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships and the Olympic Continental Qualifier at the end of the year.
Despite the months of racing coming up the focus is this week at the first ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Szeged and a team of seven paddlers will make the trip to Hungary to get the international racing season underway.
From a women’s perspective Esti Olivier and Helen Jansen van Vuuren will fly the flag with the experienced Olivier racing in the K1 500m and K1 200m events and teaming up with Jansen van Vuuren for the K2 500.
Olivier will also team up with Henry van der Walt for the K2 Mixed 500m event.
Olivier showed her class when she powered to a commanding four second win in the women’s K1 200m final. She backed that up with another resounding win, this time in the K1 500m, winning by over 13 seconds.
Jansen van Vuuren will race in the K1 5000m while in the men’s division Hamish Lovemore and Callam Davis will both race in the K1 5000m while Davis will also contest the K1 1000m.
Van der Walt will also compete in the K1 200m while Nick Weeks and Chrisjan Coetzee are the other two men competing for South Africa.
Weeks and Coetzee will team up for the K2 500m event while both will paddle in the K1 500m race.
Amongst the impressive results from the championships, Georgia Singe and Luke Salmon finished as the best Under 18 girl and boy respectively.