A team of South African canoeing’s future stars, led by African Beach Games gold medallist Kwanda Mzolo, are preparing to take on the world in Auronzo, Italy, at the ICF Canoe Sprint Junior and Under 23 World Championships which begin on Wednedsday.
The team is made up of SA’s top junior and U23 girls and boys, with Mzolo, the winner of the recent surfski event at the African Beach Games in Tunisia, taking on four events over the five-day championships.
Mzolo’s busy schedule opens with the U23 1 000m K2 heats with Sandile Mtolo on Wednesday, and they team up again in the 500m K2 on Thursday. A few hours later, Mzolo will get into a boat with Alexa Godden for the mixed 500m heats and will wrap up his challenge for World Championship glory in the 5 000m K1 on Sunday.
As with most of the team members, Mtolo will take part in three events and will complete his schedule by also teaming up with Godden in the 5 000m mixed relay event. As well as the two mixed events, Godden will also be in action in the U23 women’s 200m K1 race.
Helen Janse van Vuuren completes the five-paddler U23 contingent and will be competing in three K1 events over 500m, 1 000m and 5 000m.
Callam Davis, who was also selected to compete in Italy, was forced to withdraw from the U23 squad when he cut his thumb while unpacking his boat and the injury was severe enough to prevent him from paddling.
Junior Amy Duffett will be the first member of the young South African team to see action when she lines up in the second heat of the championships in the junior women’s 200m K1. Duffett will also be teaming up with Kerry Elliott in the 500m K2 and will wrap up her schedule in the penultimate event of the regatta on Sunday in the junior 5 000m K1.
Elliott will also be teaming up with Daniel Smit in the junior 5 000m K1 mixed relay. Smit then teams up with Theo Dreyer in the two junior men’s K2 events over 500m and 1 000m, while Dreyer’s third event will be the final event of the championships, the junior men’s 5 000m K1.
Caitlyn Evans and Jordan Klopper have been given the responsibility of flying the South African flag in the both the junior K1 500m and 1 000m events for women and men respectively, and will then join forces and team up for the junior mixed 500m K2 event.
South African U23 and Junior Sprint Team
Junior Women: Amy Duffett, Caitlyn Evans, and Kerry Elliott
Junior Men: Jordan Klopper, Theo Dreyer and Daniel Smit
U23 Women: Helen Jansen van Vuuren and Alexa Godden
U23 Men: Kwanda Mzolo and Sandile Mtolo