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Rising stars in sprint spotlight

Following the last weekend’s blistering racing at the SA Sprint Kayaking Championships, this weekend’s 16th annual SA Schools Sprint Kayaking Championships look set to excite. The sprint action will take place, once again, at one of the most picturesque sprint┬ávenues in the country, Nagle Dam, located just outside of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.

In the boys’ racing this weekend, athletes to watch include Maritzburg College sprint stars Dewald Hattingh and Blaine Beresford, who have competed together many times in the past, both as K2 partners, and as K1 rivals. In the consistent form that we have come to expect from him, Hattingh claimed the gold medal in the 1000m K1 event and the overall Under-18 Victor Ludorum title at the SA Championships this past weekend. Beresford, who raced to gold in the 500m and 200m K1 events, was third in the Under-18 Victor Ludorum rankings and is sure to want to mount a challenge on this title at this weekend’s SA Schools Championships.

Melanie van Niekerk from Jan van Riebeeck High in the Western Cape and Kerry Segal from Kingsway High School in KZN are the girls to watch this weekend, having already established themselves as two of the countries premier female junior athletes. In this past weekends SA Sprint Championships, Van Niekerk took home gold medals in both the 500m and the 200m K1 races, and as a result of her consistently brilliant form, claimed the Under-18 Victrix Ludorum title. Runner up to the Under-18 Victrix Ludorum, Segal dominated the longer 1000m and 5000m K1 distances.

This weekend’s┬áSA Schools Sprint Kayaking Championship’s programme of events will see athletes ranging in age from Under-8’s to Under-18’s competing in the 1000m K1 and K2 events on Saturday, and the 500m K1 and K2 races on Sunday. The longer distance races, 2000m for the under 8’s to the under 12’s, and 3000m for the other age categories, will be spread over Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, athletes will tackle the new Olympic 200m distance.

The importance of the SA Schools Sprint Kayaking Championships is that it allows the potential of our junior athletes to be recognised, their progress to be monitored through the years and their talents to be nurtured and developed from an early age. If the form shown by many of the junior athletes at the recent SA Sprint Championships is anything to go by, this years SA Schools looks set to be one of the most exciting ever seen.


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