This past weekend saw no more than nine South African paddlers taking on the world’s best at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Duisburg, Germany and at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Cup in Norway.
The team of eight sprinters were all in action in Germany with a men’s K4, a women’s K2, a mixed K2 and a number of K1 boats competing in an important dress rehearsal ahead of the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Szeged in August.
The quality of the competition at the second sprint World Cup of the season was higher than a week earlier in Poland but the South African team did manage to get themselves into a few of the A Finals.
Bridgitte Hartley and Donna Hutton qualified for the 200 metre K2 A Final and finished in seventh place while Hartley and Louis Hattingh finished in ninth in mixed K2 500m A Final.
Hartley then backed that up with fifth in her K1 in the women’s 5000 metre race.
“This weekend was crazy with so many races for Donna and myself!” South Africa’s sprint queen Hartley said.
“It was such a pleasure taking her down the course, a young 20 year-old taking part in her first senior World Cup event.
“We really improved with every race that we took part in and with every start we got better and we still have high hopes going into the final three months before the World Championships.”
Hero of the first World Cup Chrisjan Coetzee couldn’t replicate that form but put in some sound performances as he finished third in the B Final of the 500m race and then in the 200m B Final he finished seventh.
In her first ever senior World Cup, Donna Hutton finished ninth in the B Final of the women’s 500m K1 race.
Other paddlers that were in action in Duisburg were the men’s K4 of Coetzee, Nick Weeks, David Rodrigues and Dawie Gerber as well as Esti van Tonder and Kayla de Beer.
Van Tonder won her C final in the 500m K1 race and finished sixth in the 200m K1 race.
In Norway, Jenna Ward took on the marathon world at the first marathon World Cup of the year.
She performed well in the short course event where she won the bronze medal, however the full length event was shrouded in controversy.
With about seven kilometres left to go in the race the officials called an end to the event.
Ward was in a good position to push for a podium spot but with the race ending early she settled for fourth place overall.