SA ‘ballies’ seek Masters World Cup glory

A powerful contingent of South African veteran and master paddlers is eyeing out another hefty medal haul at this year’s ICF Canoe Marathon Masters World Cup which takes place in Brandenburg, Germany on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The age group clash precedes the all-important ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships, which takes place from Friday to Sunday and sees all of the world’s top elite long distance paddlers go head-to-head for the annual global crowns.

Some fierce racing is expected to unfold throughout the midweek vets and masters competition and with South Africa’s proud history at the event and rich marathon racing culture, a good haul of medals is expected from this year’s Masters World Cup.

Having clinched K1 gold in their respective age categories in Győr, Hungary in 2015, Marion Young (40-44), Lis Hart (50-54) and Lee McGregor (50-54) all return again this year to defend their crown.

Interestingly, AQRate’s McGregor’s dominance at previous K1 Masters World Cup encounters sees the 65 year-old set to square off against paddlers in no fewer than four age categories below his own on Tuesday.

“I’ve won eight Masters titles previously and hopefully this year I can make it nine,” says McGregor.

“For the last three years I’ve been racing guys who are fifteen years younger than me and I’ve been breaking away and winning so this year I’m going down another category.

“I’m just really excited to race!”

2015 medallists, Bruce Wenke, Hilde Lapere (both 55-59 silver) and Nicolas Oldert (55-59 bronze) will also be back on the water at this year’s clash, eager to repeat or better their podium performances of twelve months ago.

Tuesday sees all of the men’s and women’s K1 racing take place before the programme focuses its attention on the K2 action on Wednesday.

The World Championships proper then gets underway on Friday with the K1 Junior Women, K1 U23 Women and K1 U23 Men races, the K1 Junior Men and K2 Junior Women’s events then open proceedings on Saturday ahead of the much-anticipated K1 Senior Women and K1 Senior Men’s challenges.

The final day’s programme on Sunday is all about doubles racing as the K2 Junior Men, K2 Senior Women and K2 Senior Men’s events take place.