I think every paddler in the country put aside anything else that they had planned last Thursday to sit in front of a TV, computer, or in this modern day and age, cell phones, to watch our very own Bridgitte Hartley compete in the Olympic A-final for the K1 500m.
Having watched Bridgitte power her way to second in her heat and first in her Semi-final, in the second fastest qualifying time overall, we all knew she could do it. But to put it into perspective, Bridgitte has effectively been training for 8 years or more (including the build up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008), to race for under six minutes in London 2012. The dedication and committment that it takes to focus your whole life for that amount of time,in order to pour your heart into those six minutes of Olympic racing, was a testement to what we could expect from our “Golden Girl”.
So we found ourselves on the edges of our seats as buzzer sounded for the start of the London 2012 Olympic games 500m K1 A Final. At the 250m mark, Bridgitte was lying 5th. Anyone who has watched Bridgitte race over the last few years, know that her power lies in her ability to kick in the last portion of a race, and kick she did. Shouts sounded out across South Africa as she moved through the field, 5th at 250m and there wasnt a dry eye in the house as we watched her fly over the finish line to claim the Bronze and South Africa’s first Olympic Sprint Kayaking medal.