Team South Africa’s 17 year-old para-canoeist Jono Wing had to endure a heartbreaking first round elimination on his debut at the ICF Sprint World Championships as he failed to advance through to the semi-finals of his K1 (LTA) Men’s 200m competition after getting slotted into a heat loaded with the best competitors in his category.
The Pietermaritzburg youngster – attending his first ever sprint World Champs – has enjoyed a fairy tale journey in his paddling career during the past few months and had high hopes of reaching the semi-finals and possibly even a B Final in his category, however his 47.803 seconds and eighth place finish in his heat saw him fall just short of qualification.
“Jono had both a great race here today and a great season as a whole,” explained the squad’s coach and manager Craig Mustard.
“Despite being quicker than two other paddlers who qualified for the semis by more than fifteen seconds, unfortunately only the top seven in each heat advance directly through into the A Final or into the semis.
“Jono is understandably disappointed not to have made it through to the semis and is particularly frustrated with the fact that his time was faster than some of the others but we’re confident this will form an important part in the development of the mental strength he will require in the years to come,” he added.
Despite Wing’s disappointment, the young Hilton College pupil’s dream of competing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is still very much alive and the experience he has gained from the trip will put in him good stead as he looks to continue to build towards his primary goal in 2016. Wing lost the lower portion of his right leg in a lawnmower accident as a seven year-old.
“Jono is very young and has developed exceptionally well over a very short period of time!
“He set a personal best of 56 seconds at SA Champs earlier this year, he then brought that down to 52 seconds at the Szeged leg of the World Cup and our goal for him here at Worlds in Russia was 48 seconds.
“He managed a 47.8 so all of us are extremely happy with both his effort and that his training programme appears to be working exceptionally well.
“His strength is up significantly and he has increased his muscle mass by four kilograms from just a few months ago, plus he has dropped the little fat he did have and the proof of his incredible hard work is in the 9.8 seconds he has already taken off his previous times!” added Mustard.
Wing forms part of the 5-strong South African contingent at the champs together with women’s K1 500m Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, men’s K2 1000m pair Alasdair Glass and Anthony Collopy and emerging men’s K1 200m talent Chrisjan Coetzee.
Much is expected from Hartley, who gets her campaign underway on Friday, and the London Olympic third place finisher is happy with how proceedings have unfolded for her since arriving in Moscow.
“It has been quite hot but not much more so than what I’m used to in Pietermaritzburg or Richards Bay in summer. Thankfully the wind has been blowing fairly steadily or else I’m sure we’d be melting!” chuckled Hartley.
“I’ve been a little nervous here and there over the past couple of days but I think that’s pretty normal. I’ve made some changes to my training recently & I’m working quite closely with sport psychologist Kirsten van Heerden now which has helped me focus a lot better and hopefully that pays off during these Champs,” she added.
Thursday’s second day of competition sees Glass and Collopy take to the water in heat 1 of their men’s K2 1000m clash and many will be hoping a positive performance there will see them in action again later in the day in the semi-finals.
The 2014 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships take place in Moscow, Russia from 6-10 August. More info can be found at www.canoemoscow2014.com