The 2022 SA Schools and Senior Sprint Championships at Lomond Dam outside Gansbaai over the weekend provided the national sprint committee with a lot of encouragement as races and national titles were hotly contested over the three days.
With national selection on the line for many of the paddlers taking part and it was another exciting showdown as the country’s best and up-and-coming sprint paddlers battled it out for the various positions on the national teams.
From a senior perspective the usual suspects came to the fore with Chrisjan Coetzee winning the men’s K1 200m and K1 500m races in strong fashion with victory over Alex Masina and Sam Butcher in the 200m and Mark Keeling and Callam Davis in the 500m.
Esti Olivier also proved why she is the country’s premier women’s sprinter winning both the K1 200m and the K1 500m ahead of sprint legend Bridgitte Hartley, who ended second in both races, and Kira Bester, who finished third in both races.
The longer events were won by Hamish Lovemore and Hartley as both used their marathon endurance to win the K1 1000m and the K1 5000m events.
Lovemore beat Coetzee and Keeling, who finished second and third, to the 1000m crown while he beat Keeling and Davis to the 5000m title.
Hartley showed her power beating Olivier and Melanie van Niekerk in the 1000m final while the held off Van Niekerk and Jade Wilson to win the 5000m event.
The SA Schools Sprint Championships attracted another strong field of paddlers from the Under 8 category all the way through to the Under 18’s and there were a number of stand out performances.
In the Under 14 boys category Ryley Smith was the stand-out throughout winning all of his eight races that he took part in across the K1 and K2 categories.
Smith ended as the top Under 14 paddler while Emma Privett finished as the highest placed Under 14 girl. She won three of the four K1 races and won two of the four K2 events to finish top of the pile.
Georgia Singe was just as impressive in the Under 16 girls division with a clean sweep in the K1 events and backed that up with impressive performances in her K2 events too.
Saskia Hockly proved her versatility when she won every race in the Under 18 girls division claiming all four SA K1 titles and then teaming up with her sister Valmajean to win all of the K2 races as well.
In the Under 16 boys division the honours were shared across the board with Jordan Klopper winning two of the three K1 events he raced and then also winning the K2 1000m and K2 500m events.
Despite this impressive showing he opted out of a few races which left Zak Jacobs and Cody Stallard to fight it out. In the end it was Jacobs who edged Stallard for the top spot in the age group.
The Under 18 boys division was closely fought with Josh Smith and Luke Salmon emerging as the front runners for the crown.
Salmon almost made a clean sweep of the K1 races but Smith took the line honours in the 5000m K1 events.
The honours were very even through the K2 races and it was eventually Salmon who came out on top with Smith in second.
“The talent that we have right through from the Under 12 category and up is exceptional and there were some stand out performances across the board,” President of Canoeing South Africa Kim Pople said.
“Stand out in the juniors was Luke Salmon, junior boys, and Saskia Hockly, junior girls.
“A massive thank you to the Western Cape Canoe Union for hosting such a successful event and we hope that an event like this inspires youngsters to continue with sprint paddling.”