The next generation of sprint paddlers are ready to take on the world’s best when they get their campaign at the ICF Junior & Under 23 Sprint Championships underway on Wednesday, 31 August in Szeged, Hungary.
The team of nine from South Africa will be facing their toughest challenge when they begin racing this week. With three junior paddlers in Helen Jansen van Vuuren, Nicholas Erwee and Luke Salmon joined by six Under 23 paddlers in Sanele Mbanjwa, Kwanda Mzolo, Hamish Lovemore, Callam Davis, Jade Wilson and Alexa Godden the team will be hoping to gain as much experience as possible at the event.
Across the two age categories the team will be represented in a vast majority of the events as well as the mixed K2 races. In the junior division Helen Jansen van Vuuren and Luke Salmon will take on the K1 5000 metres in the women’s and men’s categories respectively.
Nicholas Erwee will race the mixed K2 500m with Jansen van Vuuren and race the K2 500m with Salmon. Salmon will also race the K1 1000m and K1 500m.
In the Under 23 age category, Hamish Lovemore and Jade Wilson will take part in the K1 5000 metre races.
Lovemore will also race the K1 1000m while Wilson is also on the start list for the K2 500m and the K1 500m.
Sanele Mbanjwa and Kwanda Mzolo will team up for the K2 1000m and the K2 500m events in the Under 23 category while Alexa Godden takes on the short K1 200m and K1 500m events along with the K2 500m with Wilson and the Under 23 K2 Mixed 500m with Callam Davis.
Davis will take on the K2 Mixed 500m and the K1 500m events at the World Championships and is looking forward to competing internationally again.
“I am really excited for this year and I have had a very good few months of training since the World Cup’s and I feel that I have improved a lot,” Davis said. “Hopefully I can express that down the course this week.
“It’s also fantastic to have such a big South African team at the event and last year we only had six paddlers and this year we have nine which is great to see.
“To see the team growing is fantastic and to have a number of crew boats in the water is fantastic so hopefully we’ll have some good results over the championships.”
The racing starts on Wednesday with Jansen van Vuuren taking part in the first race of the competition, heat one of the Junior Girls K1 200 metre.
“This is the next generation of sprint paddler in South Africa and we are very excited to see how they go this week,” Canoeing South Africa Presidetn Kim Pople said.
“They have all put in a huge amount of work and we are looking forward to seeing how they fare on the international stage.
“This championship will give them a huge amount of experience and we wish them all the best over the next five days.”
Team South Africa for ICF Junior & Under 23 Sprint World Championships
Helen Jansen van Vuuren (K1 200m, Mixed K2 500m, K1 500m, K1 5000m), Nicholas Erwee (K2 500m, Mixed K2 500m), Luke Salmon (K2 500m, K1 1000m, K1 500m, K1 5000m)
Sanele Mbanjwa (K2 1000m, K2 500m), Kwanda Mzolo (K2 1000m, K2 500m), Hamish Lovemore (K1 1000m, K1 5000m), Callam Davis (K1 500m, Mixed K2 500m), Alexa Godden (K1 200m, K2 500m, Mixed K2 500m), Jade Wilson (K1 500m, K2 500m, K1 5000m)