Following a successful SA Schools Sprint Championships and National Selection Event for U23’s at Shongweni Dam recently that featured some stand-out performances from the junior paddlers, Canoeing South Africa has named a six-person team for the ICF Junior & Under 23 Sprint World Championships in Portugal in September.
A strong field of paddlers fought it out for spots in the national team for the international showcase event with a number of very strong performances. One of the stand-out performances in the K1 racing came from De La Salle Holy Cross College’s Finlay Leask who won the 1000m, 500m and 200m Under 18 races.
The results across the board from the age group paddlers have encouraged Canoeing South African President Kim Pople.
“Having witnessed fantastic racing over the past month, it’s encouraging to see a resurgence of young paddlers in this discipline, particularly from Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape is exciting for the future of Sprinting, one of our Olympic Disciplines,” Pople said.
“The structured flat water training squads that have emerged are bearing fruit, and we look forward to watching their development even further”.
“With the postponement of the Championships from July to September 2021, the team have an extra six weeks preparation and a training camp is planned for the team.”
The team will be made up of five junior paddlers, Leask and his K2 partner from the championships Matthew Maccelari in the boys, and Alexa Godden, Helen Jansen van Vuuren and Laila Maher in the junior girls.
Rounding out the team travelling to Portugal is Callam Davis in the Under 23 age category.
Making sure that sprint talent remains in the South African system has become a priority for Canoeing South Africa going forward, given the discipline’s status as an Olympic code.
“The Sprint Committee has been reviewing the long term development plan for sprinting, focusing on sustainability and the retention of the paddlers in the sprint discipline.
“With this in mind we will be announcing the Olympic Hopes Team within the next few days as well,” said Pople.
“Congratulations to the paddlers, keep working hard and we look forward to watching you compete later this year in Portugal,” Pople added.
The team selected for the ICF Junior & Under 23 Sprint World Championships in Portugal in September:
Junior: Alexa Godden, Helen Jansen van Vuuren, Laila Maher, Finlay Leask, Matthew Maccelari.
U23: Callam Davis