Following this past weekend’s SA Sprint Selection event at Shongweni Dam, Chrisjan Coetzee and Esti van Tonder have been selected by Canoeing South Africa as the two athletes that will attempt to qualify for this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Both sprinters proved why they are the preferred pair by winning all of their events and Van Tonder even took part in the men’s racing to test herself before she heads to Europe.
“It was just amazing to race again!” Van Tonder said. “I went down to Shongweni to test my speed and tolerance, and getting the opportunity to race the guys really helped me to push the limits of both!
“I feel like 2020 gave me a year to breath and get back the joy of this sport and why I keep pushing day in and day out!
“I’ve always felt physically prepared but now I feel physically and mentally in sync with my goals and preparation to reach them.
“I’m just excited to get to Olympic Qualifiers and give it my absolute all while enjoying every single stroke!”
Van Tonder will race in the 500m K1 at the Olympic qualifying event in Russia in May.
Coetzee has decided to shift his focus to the longer 1000 metre event and said after the weekend’s racing that just getting back into a racing environment was huge.
“It’s been quite a long time since I last raced,” he said. “So this was a good opportunity to get the racing feeling again, especially the race nerves.
“The change from 200m to 1000m has been a big ask, but I’m starting to get used to the 1000m burn more and more. With my strong 500m performances, I’m not too far off being able to do a really good 1000m, it is just a matter of time and hard work.
“I’m really looking forward to racing internationally again, it has been so long and I’m excited to see what I can achieve over the 1000m.
“Motivation is starting to get back to normal again and training is feeling better every day. Things can only improve fron this point forward,” he added.
Coetzee was made to work hard for his win in the men’s 1000m K1 after he was pushed hard by Junior and Under 23 Sprint World Championship hopeful Callam Davis.
It’s going to be a busy period for both Van Tonder and Coetzee who have a World Cup in Hungary before the qualifying event in Russia which is followed directly by World Cup 2 at the same Barnaul venue a day later.