Poznan, Poland — As canoeists all over the world fight for qualify for places on the start line for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, many of the future stars are getting their first taste of international competition in the 2023 Olympic Hopes Regatta in Poznan, Poland from Thursday to Sunday.
The innovative Olympic Hopes programme is an international development regatta introduced to get under 15, under 16 and under 17 sprint canoeists prepared for international competition. The 12 South Africa paddlers selected for the 2023 event will join 41 other nations in Poland to compete over four intense days of competition.
Five paddlers — Kayla Szalay, Jordan Klopper, Tome dos Santos, Tyde Malherbe and Theo Dreyer — have competed in an Olympic Hopes Regatta before and are hoping to build on that experience to get reach some finals.
Previous Olympic Hopes teams have already shown the benefit of introducing junior paddlers to international competition with some encouraging results at the Junior and U23 World Championships in Italy earlier this year coming from last year’s Olympic Hopes squad.
“This regatta gives budding young paddlers who have achieved good results nationally a great opportunity to test themselves against the best in Europe and the rest of the world,” said team manager Jodie Ellinor-Dreyer from Poland on Wednesday.
“We hope and expect the youngsters to blossom from this opportunity. It is a great way for the future stars to broaden their horizons and learn about and experience another country through the sport of canoeing.
“As the team manager, I am truly blessed to see our awesome team who have bonded from the get go.
“Competing at these Olympic Hopes events is not for the faint hearted: It is highly competitive and many of the other athletes here have competed regularly on the European sprint circuit.
“My hope is that each athlete does their best — and maybe get a place or two on the podium,” added Ellinor-Dreyer with a hopeful smile.
2023 SA Federation Team – Olympic Hopes
Tome dos Santos
Jodie Ellinor-Dreyer and Candy Mavundla