The South African sprint team will return from Pitesti, Romania with three A Finals to show for their efforts at the recent ICF Junior and Under 23 Canoe Sprint World Championships that concluded over the weekend.
Louis Hattingh was the first South African into an A Final where he finished eighth in the 1000m K1 race while Jarryd Gibson ended ninth in the 500m A Final and the impressive Donna Hutton was sixth in the 500m K1 A Final.
There were commendable performances from all of the team with a handful taking part in their first world championships.
Gibson, who made his first ever A Final, was over the moon with his efforts and will take his experience from that A Final into the senior world championships in Szeged in two weeks’ time.
“My K1 500m was definitely the highlight of my tour!” he said. “I had close to a perfect race in my semi-final where I was leading for 450m of my race but unfortunately blew up with the last little bit.
“My lead was enough for me to maintain to secure myself a spot in my first ever A final at a World Champs event.
“This was the best feeling I’ve ever had, knowing I was good enough to box with the best in the world!
“Unfortunately, I think lining up on the start line for the final with the world’s best got into my head and made me extremely nervous and I didn’t end up following my race plan, I raced terribly and didn’t execute the plan I had set for myself!”
Hutton, who has flown the South African flag in an A Final before, showed that she is a star in the making with her solid sixth place finish. It was a tough build up for the Pietermaritzburg-based paddler but she overcame a significant hurdle to produce a strong result.
“After having really struggled with flu in the weeks leading up to the event I am really happy to have still pulled of my best World Championship result finishing off sixth in the K1 U23 500m.
“I am really proud of my local training team HPTraining for pulling off all three of Team SA’s A Finals!
“What an honour to be part of such a talented team of athletes. The three of us are really excited for the weeks to come as we travel to Hungary to compete in the senior field and fight it out for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifications,” Hutton said.
President of Canoeing South Africa Kim Pople was in Pitesti with the squad and saw the results first-hand. She is beyond encouraged by the performances from the team.
“It was an absolute privilege to be in Pitesti with the team,” Pople said. “There were some outstanding performances and three A Finals is exciting for our future.
“The event is a superb platform for sprinting in our country, and now the excitement builds for Szeged and the Olympic qualifier in a few weeks’ time.
“I am very proud of the team that represented South Africa this past week.”
SELECTION OF RESULTS – ICF Junior and Under 23 Sprint World Championship – Pitesti, Romania
Donna Hutton – Under 23 500m K1 A Final – sixth
Jarryd Gibson – Under 23 500m K1 A Final – ninth
Louis Hattingh – Under 23 1000m K1 A Final – eighth
Kayla de Beer – Under 23 200m K1 B Final – ninth
Sean van Pletzen – Junior 200m K1 C Final – ninth
Louis Hatting/Jarryd Gibson – Under 23 1000m K2 B Final – second
Jordy Malherbe – Junior 1000m K1 B Final – eighth