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Hartley heads for Africa

Bridgitte Hartley will arrive at the All Africa Games in Mozambique with a smile all the way to London, writes Mark Etheridge.

That’s because she’s basically secured her spot on Team South Africa for next year’s Olympic Games in London.

The ICF (International Canoe Federation) this week officially released the list of countries that had secured places for the Olympics after the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Szeged, Hungary and KwaZulu-Natal’s Hartley was on that list.

The National Federation (and their National Olympic Committee) gains athlete quotas from which they can decide to nominate a specific athlete.

Hartley won the K1 500-metre B-Final in London in what was a world record 1min 46sec but as she says: “It was the wrong final otherwise I’d be world champion now!

“I’m still in London now as we have the test Olympics here at the weekend and then I fly back for AAG, although we’re not actually based in Maputo.”

It’s not the end of the road for the other South Africans as the second round of qualifications will be at continental level and will see athletes on each of the five continents fighting to obtain additional places.

Hartley was overjoyed at the news that she had qualified a place for South Africa at the Olympic Games telling the ICF website: “I got tears in my eyes as it has hit me now what a great achievement it is and I look forward to representing South Africa at the Olympic Games in London 2012′.

A total of 176 athletes have won places representing 34 countries from the 2011 World Championships. Another 120 places are available at the continental qualification events.


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