On a red letter day for South African paddling, Andy Birkett downed a very strong field to win the Marathon World Cup short course final in Portugal, while in the Russian city of Minsk Jean van der Westhuyzen won a bronze medal in the Junior Sprint World Championships and Under 23 ace Louis Hattingh added an A final to Team South Africa’s haul.
Birkett managed to win convincingly, racing away from Portuguese star José Ramalho and Hungarian K2 world champion Adrian Boros to give himself the perfect confidence booster going into the Key K1 Marathon World Cup clash at the same venue on Sunday.
His Camps Drift training partner Jakub Adam, representing his native Czech Republic finished eighth.
Birkett would no doubt have been given an added boost by the earlier news of Van der Westhuyzen’s stunning bronze medal in the A final of the Under 18 Boys 1000m K1 at the Junior World Champs in Minsk.
The Michaelhouse schoolboy has been in sublime form, blitzing to victory in his heat and semi-final, and can now add a Sprint World Championships medal to the gold medal he won at the Junior Marathon World Championships in 2014 in Oklahoma City.
His partner on that occasion Louis Hattingh gave team South Africa more reason to cheer in Minsk when he qualified for the A final of the Under 23 1000m K1 against a very strong field, finishing seventh in that final.
Portgual Marathon World Cup, Prado Vila Verde
Short Course Final
1 Andrew Birkett (RSA) 14:13.31
2 José Ramalho (POR) 14:17.81
3 Adrián Boros (HUN) 4:24.41
4 Quentin Urban (FRA) 14:29.37
5 Stéphane Boulanger (FRA) 14:32.04
6 Ádám Petro (HUN) 14:42.49
7 Mads Petersen (DEN) 14:43.49
8 Jakub Adam (CZE) 14:45.47
9 Jérémy Candy (FRA) 15:05.73
10 Filippo Vincenzi (ITA) 15:20.71
Junior and Under 23 Sprint World Championships, Minsk
Under 18 1000m K1 A final.
1 Jacob Shopf (GER) 3:40:047
2 Magnus Gregory (GBR) 3:40:419
3 Jean van der Westhuyzen (RSA) 3:42:887