Duisburg, Germany — Esti Olivier provide the highlight for the South African team at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Duisburg, Germany, with an impressive sixth position in the women’s 200m K1 final on Sunday.
Olivier, who is hoping to secure a place for South Africa at the Olympics in Paris next year, enjoyed a superb regatta by also securing fourth in the B Final in the 500m K1 on Saturday.
That result in the Olympic distance 500m was not enough for an early qualification spot to Paris 2024, but Olivier will now target the African Championships in Nigeria in November and is clearly the overwhelming favourite to qualify there.
The 30-year-old was satisfied with her performances and happy to be improving as she aims for a place at the Olympics.
“It was a good week of racing and the highest standard of racing in the season,” said Olivier after the 200m final. “The countries are quick and super strong this year.
“I am super stoked about my performances. Two spots up from last year to get fourth in the 500m B Final and now sixth and three spots up in the 200m, with times that are competitive and in the mix.
“I am ready to build up to the African Champs and then the Oympic Games.”
The SA team suffered a setback before leaving South Africa when Chrisjan Coetzee was forced to withdraw with a broken ankle. That meant Nicholas Weeks had to transition from the 500m K2 to the corresponding singles event. He finished sixth in his heat in a time of 1:44:152 but did not qualify for the semis. It was a tough outcome because, had he been in one of the other heats, his time would have been good enough for a semi-final as one of the quickest fifth-place finishers.
A tough draw also cost Henry van der Walt, who suffered the same fate and missed out on the semis when he ended sixth in the 200m K1 with a time of 38:012 — also faster than other semi-final qualifiers from other heats.
Weeks and Van der Walt teamed up for the 500m K2 but the makeshift crew ended fifth in their heat with their time of 1:35.311 which was not enough for a semi-final place.
Callum Davis was able to progress beyond the heats in the 1 000m K1, but his seventh place was only enough to reach a B semi-final, where a second place saw him through to the E final and a fifth position there.
Davis wrapped up the regatta with a 22nd place in the 5 000m K1, the final event of the Championships on Sunday afternoon.
“It has been an insane level at these Championships, but we see that every time we have an Olympic qualifier,” said CSA President Kim Pople, who was in Germany with the team. “We must now looking forward and I am pretty confident we will qualify our boats through the continental route in Abuja in Nigeria in November.
“Long term I have to take responsibilty to find funding for the sprint teams. To compete with the big teams here is really difficult. The reality is that our athletes pay their own way to come here, while the other athletes are fully funded. For them this is their life and this is their business.
“I am really proud of what our paddlers have done and we are looking forward to Abuja in November.”
K1 200m: 6th A Final
K1 500m: 4th B Final
K1 500m: 6th Heats
Henry van der Walt
K1 200m: 6th Heats
K1 1 000m: 5th E Final
K1 5 000m: 22nd
Weeks & Van der Walt
K2 500m: 6th Heats