Abuja, Nigeria – Esti Olivier leads a strong South African sprint canoe team to the African Championships in Nigeria this week, confident of securing a spot at the Paris Olympic.
The championships run from Thursday until Sunday on Jabi Lake in Abuja, Nigeria, with the five-person team looking to secure four places for South African in the Olympics in Paris next year.
Olivier will be competing in the two women’s 500m events, and will she will be teaming up with Helen Jansen van Vuuren in the K2.
For the men, Callam Davis will paddle the 1 000m K1 while Chrisjan Coetzee and Nicholas Weeks will be aiming to secure a South African spot in Paris in the 500m K2.
Olivier has been the standout competitor for South Africa on the international stage this year, just missing out on qualification at the World Championships and other European qualifying events, and should be able to comfortably earn an Olympic qualifying place in the K1 race.
Although the championships fall outside the traditional racing season for sprinters, South African Canoe Federation President Kim Pople was confident the squad will perform well in Nigeria.
“We are so looking forward to competing in Nigeria at the continental qualifiers, even though in terms of athlete periodisation, November is a difficult time of the year,” said Pople. “It is the final chance for Paris, so the athletes will give their all as they look at securing the quotas for Team South Africa. We wish our team of five all the best.”