This past weekend saw three different sprint meeting happen around the country with the point of the exercise to see where the paddlers are in preparations for the national championships in April but also looking to the next Olympic Games in 2016.
It was a successful weekend of sprinting according to Canoeing South Africa Sprint representative Neil Evans who said that the turn out at the three centres was great and was encouraging heading into an important qualifying period for sprint canoeing.
“We at CSA wanted this event to bring our coaches, athletes and official together nice and early on in the year for them to gauge where they are with their training for the 2014 season and for the all-important run up to the 2016 Olympic games,” Evans said. “After talking to the people involved from the 3 venues I am really pleased to see the levels of participation and the levels of performance at this early stage.”
The challenge was setting up three different events around the country but it was seen as the best way of seeing as many paddlers as possible due to the fact that many would not have been able to make it to one specific venue.
“Having the decentralised venues seems to have been successful in bringing the sport to the athletes.
“I would like to thank all the athletes, parents, coaches and officials for their participation and hard work to make the three events possible and successful,” a happy Evans mentioned.
The events around the country could only have been boosted with the presence of some of the country’s top, as well as up-and-coming paddlers taking part in the events over the weekend.
South African sprint queen and Olympic bronze medal winner Bridgette Hartley boosted the profile of the Gauteng event as she won her events. The local paddlers would have really enjoyed having such a high profile athlete against whom they could gauge their ability.
Former World Marathon Champion Shaun Rubenstein was amongst the athletes that took part in the Western Cape leg of the trials along with Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon fourth placed duo of Brandon van der Walt and Stu Maclaren.
A number of the South team that took part in the successful 2013 African sprint champs were also among the paddlers that took part in the event trying to test themselves against the best that the country has to offer.
Evans stressed that these are not the last of the events that will be happening around the country with a number of other events planned at the same venues in the lead up to the SA Sprint Championships in April.
Results from the different events in Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape