SA paddlers look to make their mark in Denmark | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA paddlers look to make their mark in Denmark

A strong squad of South Africans will compete at this week’s ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, writes Mark Etheridge.

The Championships will be preceded by the ICF World Masters Cup on Wednesday and Thursday with more strong SA representation.

The Under-18 Junior Boys and Girls race get the championships under way on Friday. The boys will race over 21.5 kilometres and the women paddle 17km.

Cape Town’s Peter Cole is team manager and shared with Road to Rio 2016 the outlook for the team. “In the junior boys we have world surfski champ Kenny Rice┬áand runner-up Nicholas Notten. Both are from Cape Town and really accomplished surf life savers, and kayakers.”

In the girls race, Kerry Shuter lines up with Kirsten Flanagan. Shuter recently competed at the World Sprint Championships in Duisberg, Germany as part of the women’s K4 combination that reached the B Final in the 500m event. Flanagan is a world junior surf ski champion.

Friday also sees the Under-23 men’s and women’s K1 races. The women’s race will be contested over 21.5km and the men will race 26km. Durban duo Kerry Segal and Jenna Ward are the SA representatives in the women’s race while Pietermaritzburg’s Andy Birkett (a multiple Duzi Marathon winner) and currently world surf ski silver medallist Brandon van der Walt go off in the men’s event.

Saturday features the junior K2 events and Kenny Rice and Nicholas Notten will be joined by Calvin McKie and Gene Prato. Shuter is partnered by Jordan Peak while youngsters Nicole Smith and Kelly Biljoen make their World Marathon debut.

Cole’s wife, Alexa (formerly Lombard) paddles in the senior women’s race over 26km, an ever featuring six laps and six portage sections. Cole, right, is a former World Marathon silver-medallist and is joined by Durban’s Michelle Burn.

Tough guy Hank McGregor is one of two SA entrants in the senior men’s race. McGregor is a two-time marathon world champion and he’ll be joined by world Under-23 champion Grant van der Walt who makes his debut in the senior ranks.

“Sunday it’s the turn of the senior women’s K2 and here we’ll have Alexa being joined by the SA surf-lifesaving captain Eloise Horne while current world surf ski champion Michelle Eray is partnered by Olympic K1 500m bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley.” Horne, formerly Van Gysen, is married to SA sevens rugby star Frankie Horne.

In the senior men’s K2, former world champion Sean Rubenstein makes a welcome return to competition and he’ll have the power of current world surf ski champion Sean Rice to call on in the back. Andy Birkett will have the experience of another former marathon world champion Cam Schoeman to fall back on.