Hot on the heels of the South African Sprint Championships last weekend, the South African Schools Sprint Canoe Championships took place at the same Roodeplaat Dam venue and the performances underlined the resurgence in sprint paddling across the country.
There were some top performances from paddlers from as young as seven years old up to the under 18 age category at the national championships with several paddlers standing out as ones to watch in the future.
Despite racing in the national championships just a few days prior it was Jonathan Jooste who proved that he was too strong for the rest of the Under 18 boys field while in a surprise turn of events Jackie van der Westhuyzen beat Keegan Keiser to the junior girls despite coming second to her at the SA Champs a few days prior.
In the Under 18 boys showdown Menlo Park Hoerskool’s Jooste managed to pip his K2 partner and Parys Hoerskool’s Sean van Pletzen to the overall honours despite not winning the 200m and 100m K1 events. He and Van Pletzen combined to win three of the four K2 races.
The long distance K2 showdown was won by the Thaba Jabula Secondary School pair of Zanentlantla Mbala and Sibusiso Chwayi.
Bartho Visser from Hugenote Hoerskool in Wellington finished third in the Under 18 boys overall standings.
Fairmont High School’s Van der Westhuyzen was put under immense pressure by Keiser for the under 18 girls crown and eventually snuck home by just two points after the pair teamed up to win all of the K2 events.
Van der Westhuyzen finished third in the Long Distance K1 race and second in the 100m and 200m K1 events but won the 500m race which gave her the edge. Alexis Rich from Paarl High School for Girls finished in third.
Under 16 ace and Stirling High School star Jordy Malherbe finished the national championships as the first junior ahead of Jooste but dominated the Under 16 at the Schools Championships where he won every event he took part in.
New Orleans Secondary School’s Melvino Klaasen finished in second place in the Under 16’s standings while Ruan van Pletzen from Parys Hoerskool claimed the bronze medal.
In another dominant display Clarendon High School’s Zara Wood took home the Under 16 girls honours where she 25 points ahead of her nearest competitor Abigail Bezuidenhout from Parys Hoerskool. Rounding out the podium in the Under 16 event was Thokoza Mnganya High School’s Nosipho Mthembu.
The Under 14 boys category was the biggest category with 39 paddlers taking part. De La Salle’s Finlay Leask and Adrian Rodd finished first and second respectively with Leask dominating every event.
Rodd’s K2 results with Leask saw him finish second while Eugon Williams from New Orleans finished in third place.
Melonie Croeser from Pietermaritzburg Girls High School won the Under 14 girls title with wins in every event, while Jo-ane Prinsloo from Parys Hoërskool took second and Amy Duffet took home the bronze medal.
In the guppy races Lyton Oelofse from Parys Laërskool won all of the races in the under 12 boys showdown, ahead of Kevin Khanyile from St Mitchell in second and Theo Dreyer from St Davids Marist Inanda in third.
Stephane Erasmus from Kuswag won the girls Under 12 title at a canter with Deinse Scholtz and Whitney Appolis from Parys Laërskool and La Rochelle Primary respectively.
The Under 10 age category saw Jess Webber, Matthew Wilson and Luke Wilson from St Davids Marist Inanda take first, second and third respectively while it was Jenna Lee from Rustenburg Girls who won the Under 10 Girls ahead of Emma Privett from Laerskool Okkie Smit.
Murray Lee from SACS, Wian Prinsloo from Parys Laerskool and Joshua Friedericksen from St Davids Marist Inanda finished one, two and three in the Under 8 Boys with Lee winning all four races.