As Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase pack their bags for the trip to Brandenburg, Germany this weekend, their sole aim is to bring home medals from the 2016 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships which takes place from 16-18 September.
The Durban based pair have every intention of racing onto the podium next weekend, if not in fact winning their respective Under-23 Women’s and Junior Women’s K1 clashes outright.
“No one goes to a World Championships not wanting to win!” confirms Euro Steel’s Ward. “I definitely want to do better than the two U23 bronzes I’ve won at the past two Worlds, but the main aim is most definitely gold!”
“Kyeta is also so incredibly talented and having gone to worlds for the first time last year and finished fourth without any experience – I just can’t see any other junior girl in the world being faster than her!” she adds.
Both Ward and Purchase – together with Team SA K1 Senior Woman competitor, Nicole Russell – are members of respected coach and legendary Masters marathon competitor Lee McGregor’s MACSquad which trains at Blue Lagoon and believe their build-up has been perfect.
“Training has gone extremely well for us and it has been amazing having such a great group of girls on the water every single day, pushing each other as hard as we possibly can while still knowing we’ll all be racing in different age groups at Worlds” explains Ward.
“Having Hank (McGregor) and Lee on the water every evening has also been great because they just set the standard for everyone else!”
Ward draws added comfort from Germany and South Africa sharing the same time zone as well as the double U23 bronze medallist having experienced the Brandenburg course once previously.
“Not having to deal with much East-West travel is a real bonus for us plus we’re heading to Germany nice and early this year so even if we are a little tired from the travels, we’ve got plenty of time to recover fully before race day.
“I raced in a sprint event as a junior five years ago so I have a vague memory of the course.
“It is quite an open course so it’s quite susceptible to the wind but with my surfski background, I’m quite used to racing in waves.”
While their respective K1 events remain their top priority, Ward and Purchase’s combination in the Senior Women’s K2 clash is another element of the trip the pair are looking forward to.
“We’re definitely focusing on our K1 races first and foremost, “says Ward. “What is nice as far as our K2 race goes though is that both Kyeta’s and my K1 race is on the Friday, giving us all of Saturday to recover before we race K2 together on Sunday.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time together in a K2 over the past 18 months or so and really combine well together in the boat.
“We got a fifth in the same race last year in Hungary so it would be great to better that this time around and if all can go well for us on the day then perhaps we could even podium.”