Strong start for SA sprinters in Europe

South African sprint paddlers Esti van Tonder and Chrisjan Coetzee returned excellent results at the first ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup of the season, signalling their hunger to assert themselves at the start of the 2020 Olympic qualification cycle.

Van Tonder was the stand-out paddler as she powered her way into the A Final in 500m K1 event where she finished in eighth place. She also just missed out on the 200m A Final where she finished fourth in the semi-final with only the top three advancing.

“This is my first Olympic distance A-final on senior level,” a proud Van Tonder mentioned.  “It is definitely a nice milestone to have finally reached.

“I think there are areas in my race that I am capable of executing better already, and that’s what I will be focussing on in Szeged.”

Van Tonder’s performances in both her races is a testament to how hard she has been working, as well as a showcase of her natural ability.

“I am happy with how all my races went and how I raced my own plan.

“I will now just take on the next World Cup in Szeged and try and achieve those personal goals and targets I’ve set for myself,” a focused Van Tonder added.

On the men’s front, Chrisjan Coetzee also performed admirably by finishing first in his 200m B Final, especially after having a horror start in his semi-final.

“I am happy with my end result because when everything comes together I am fast enough to compete with the top paddlers, but it’s all about avoiding any small problems at any point which I’ll work on now.

“I missed the start and then had to play catch up in my semi-final and this threw my race plan.

“I am looking forward to the Hungarian World Cup to try and reproduce a race like my B final in Portugal,” Coetzee commented.

Team manager and coach Craig Mustard is upbeat heading into the second World Cup this weekend in Hungary. He feels that both paddlers are in a good space as they continue to improve with the World Championships coming up in August.

“Both athletes are really positive and excited for the next World Cup and it’s really good to see that are achieving their goal they have set for this season.

“This will be essential as we build toward the world championships later this year,” Mustard said.

The next ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup takes place in Szeged, Hungary this coming weekend from 26-28 May.