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Masters grab seven medals

The 1992 Olympic canoe/kayak venue in Banyoles, Spain, this week plays host to the top marathon paddlers in the world for the 2010 ICF Canoe Marathon Masters World Cup, as well as the 2010 ICF World Canoe Marathon Championships.

The Masters World Cup kicked off the racing on Wednesday, with the South African team netting a total of seven medals and setting a high standard for their younger counterparts to follow.

Out of this impressive medal haul, were golds from Herve De Rauville (70 plus), Roelof van Riet (60-64), Hilda Lapere (50-54) and Mary Beth Burton (55-59), a silver medal from Antje Manfroni in the women’s 35-39 category, and bronze medals from TC Smit (men’s 50-54) and Anna Clifford Arwidi (women’s 40-44).

Friday sees the start of the Marathon World Championships, and with a strong South African team including past medallists and champions, such as Ant Stott, Michele Eray, Grant van der Walt, Brandon van der Walt, as well as new up and coming talent, Team South Africa are sure to hold their own against the strong international field.

Grant van der Walt, who already has two gold and one silver medal to his name, will hope to defend his 2009 Under-23 title. ÔÇ£I’m feeling confident about my preparation. It is going to be a different experience this year, because I am going to be more the target than the unknown as I try to defend my 2009 titleÔÇØ

Michele Eray, who will be competing alongside Bridgitte Hartley in the senior women’s’ K1 event on Saturday, has been in Banyoles for a few days preparing for the event, and is excited to paddle on such a historic course.

ÔÇ£The course is great, a stunning light blue colour with the Pyrenees┬áin the background. I feel privileged to paddle here where the greats raced their hearts out in the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.ÔÇØ

Ant Stott and Graeme Solomon will be one of the pairs taking on the K2 senior men’s race on Sunday. Stott, who raced to gold with Cam Schoeman in 2008, and silver with Shaun Rubenstein in 2009, is confident about the combination with Solomon.

ÔÇ£We have spent a lot of time training together and are going nicely. It was a good idea for Graeme and I to go and compete together in Spain as we have already raced the top crews this year, and know where we stand.ÔÇØ

The last minute inclusion of national sprint team members, Len Jenkins and Hartley into the team has sparked some debate in the canoeing fraternity. CSA General Manager, Graham Bird, issued the following statement on the situation:

ÔÇ£Over the past year CSA embarked on a comprehensive NLDTF (Lotto) funded High Performance program. After various trials, CSA contracted certain athletes to form part the CSA Residential Squad whose aims are full time sprint training towards the Olympic Qualification events in 2011 and finally the Olympic games in 2012. As part of the build-up to the World Sprint Championships held in August 2010, the CSA residential athletes were not permitted to compete in the CSA Marathon trials held in June.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Due to the withdrawal of Hank McGregor from the SA Marathon team and the vacancy in the women’s K1 slot, the CSA Board made the decision to allow Len and Hartley, who are both part of the CSA Residential squad, to take the empty slots to compete for CSA at the upcoming World Marathon championships. As this is in the rest period after the World Sprint Champs, it allows a great opportunity for the athletes to compete at a high level while taking time out from the rigorous sprint training.ÔÇØ

The junior and Under-23 racing kicks off on Friday with the junior boys at 9:30am, junior girls at 9:33am, Under-23 women at 11:45am and Under-23 men at 14.45pm. The senior K1, junior K2, and senior C1 classes will race on Saturday, while the senior K2 events finish off the competition on Sunday.

For more information and up to date results and race schedules, please visit www.banyoles.cat


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