Canoeing South Africa took a wonderfully broadminded approach to the coming up 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the qualification regattas by sending a large team to the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Portugal at the end of August. The Olympic qualification regatta will take place in 2019 in order to secure a berth in the Olympics so this World Champs could best be described as the prelims as one starts building the team. CSA and the team members took a calculated risk in entering events that were outside their comfort zone and really mixing things up.
We are sure that we joined all of South Africa in rejoicing that Bridgitte Hartley made a return to sprinting. She has been such a phenomenal icon of our sport – inspiring our up and coming sprinters to hold on to their dreams and put in the work in order to make them a reality. Her sprinting took a welcome break after Rio 2016 as she developed her skills in river and surf ski paddling. Hartley has become a fearsome contender on the river and the sea and her name can often be seen on the podium list of the event. One of her best results to date must be her domination of SA Marathons in St Francis where she managed to secure a berth in both the K1 and K2 Senior SA Team. With this in mind we were a little surprised to find out that she had put her hand up for the sprint team to represent South Africa in the 1000m and 5000m just two weeks prior to World Marathons. Our amazement turned to absolute delight as we watched her storm through the field in the semi to take 1st which gave her a place in the A Final. Hartleys 3rd in the A Final was an inspiration as she dug deep over the last 200m to claim her place on the podium. If she can do the same again next year – she is guaranteed a place in the Olympic heats. She also went on to finish 7th in the 5000m.
Our Olympic dreams are also centred on Esti van Tonder and Chrisjan Coetzee.
READ MORE from page 18 in Issue 5 of 2018: https://issuu.com/thepaddlemag/docs/tpm_5_2018