The South African sprint canoeing team wrapped up its campaign at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships over the weekend and can be proud of their achievements at the global showpiece as they now shift focus to the Africa Games in Morocco this week.
It’s a whirlwind few weeks for the team who will be on course in Rabat later this week with the paddling programme starting on Wednesday and running until Friday.
Despite the team not being able to produce any Olympic qualification times at the World Championships in Szeged last week, President of Canoeing South Africa Kim Pople was proud of the team’s efforts.
“These Olympic qualifiers are incredible to watch and the standard is so much higher than other events,” Pople said.
“If you look at how our team did with little support against teams that have all the support they could need, it was outstanding what we managed to achieve.”
Szeged is known as the home of paddling and people come from all over Hungary to witness a World Championships. The experience of having that many people watching a sprint event is something that the paddlers won’t forget.
“It was the most amazing experience for our team of eleven paddlers and that is what I want them to take away from the event.
“I want them to take away those memories of racing in front of such an incredible crowd and it is something that you have to experience first-hand!”
Although the results did not go as planned, Esti van Tonder showed some good form to win the C Final in the women’s K1 500m. She also finished second in the C Final of the women’s K1 200m.
Chrisjan Coetzee managed to finish third in the men’s 200m C Final.
Bridgitte Hartley also produced a fine result in the women’s 5000m where she finished just off the podium in fourth place.
“Looking back at Szeged there will be some time to decide whether we go for another four year cycle.
“We will sit back and let the paddlers take stock of what happened and then we will get together and look forward to the next challenge,” Pople explained.
After the hype of Szeged the majority of the paddlers will travel to Rabat for the continental showpiece.
Bridgitte Hartley, Donna Hutton and Esti van Tonder will join Nosipho Mthembu in Rabat as the women’s contingent for the Games.
Louis Hattingh, Jarryd Gibson, Chrisjan Coetzee and Alex Masina will be the men’s representatives in Morocco.
“I wish them all the best in Morocco. It is going to be a very different experience for them and hopefully we can bring home medals for Team SA,” Pople added.
South African Canoeing Team for 2019 Africa Games – Rabat, Morocco
Esti van Tonder (K1 500m K1 200m K4 500m), Bridgitte Hartley (K2 500m K2 200m K4 500m), Donna Hutton (K2 500m K2 200m K4 500m), Nosipho Mthembu (K4 500m), Chrisjan Coetzee (K1 200m K4 500m), Louis Hattingh (K1 1000m K2 1000m K4 500m), Jarryd Gibson (K2 1000m K4 500m), Alex Masina (K4 500m).