Following the recently concluded Olympic Hopes regatta in Bratislava, Slovakia, Team South Africa had much to smile about following some notable performances with many athletes racing internationally for the first time.
Reflecting on the results as a whole, there were more semi-finals achieved than in the previous year, and with the new 4-day format and running of B-finals it was encouraging to see two of South African crews reach this B Final level.
The K2 crew of Amy Duffett and Kelly Elliott produced a strong performance in their B Final to finish eighth while Cody Stallard ended in the same place in his 1000m K1 B Final, holding off 9th despite a broken foot strap just off the start.
Team manager, Jodie Ellinor-Dreyer, was happy with the team’s performances. With over 40 countries and 800 athletes, Team SA was able to line up and experience international competition of the highest standard. The age groups allowance make for interesting comparisons and setting of new goals for a number of our new athletes to the world stage.
“As with any tour there are a lot of moving parts, fortunately everything came together and it was a huge success” Ellinor-Dreyer said. “The team dynamics blossomed, and it was heartwarming to see the group do so well.
“The team shirt swapping is always entertaining to see play out and the friendships made with other countries was notable.
“Each athlete gave their best and rallied over the four days of competition and I am super proud of what the team achieved.”
Beyond the competition the athletes were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of Bratislava, as well as squeeze in a day and a half sightseeing tour in Vienna before returning home.
“A memorable highlight for all was the visit to the South African Embassy. Stationed in Vienna, and unable to attend any of the racing due to their busy schedules, the Ambassador, Minister and the embassy staff invited the team and parents to a function at their offices. What a privilege to engage with officials and learn of their work abroad.
“A great ending to a successful tour.”