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Rio hopeful Paull has international baptism of fire in Germany
- Updated: May 22, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Canoeing’s Sprint World Cup descended on Duisberg, Germany on Thursday for the second in the series… and South Africa’s Graham Paull was first in action.
Paull, who lives in the little Limpopo village of Haenertsburg and celebrates his 28th birthday on Friday, went off in the para-section and is out to qualify for next year’s Rio Paralympic Games in Brazil. Formerly a promising rugby player, Paull was paralysed from the waist down after an infection called transverse myelitis.
This was Paull’s first ever experience of international competition. As such he had to go through a vigorous medical classification which saw him being classified as the KL2 section in the 200m event.
Says manager and newly appointed national sprint president, Craig Mustard: ‘Graham’s first race was not his best effort due to race nerves, but after that race Graham was really strong In his semi-final.’
In his heat, Paull ended seventh in a time of 1min 03.075sec as Austria’s Markus Woboda won in 46.006. But his semi-final certainly saw an improvement as he ended sixth in 47.705 behind Britain’s Adam Simmons (51.557).
‘In the semi-final Graham was in the top of the field at the 150m mark but just dropped off in the last 50m.
‘This is a really a good raw result and I now believe that with a more structured and professional training program Graham has the potential to qualify at the world championships in August this year,’ says Mustard.
Friday sees the able-bodied athletes joining the fray where Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley will be hoping her should shows some improvement after last week’s World Cup 1 in Portugal where she ended sixth in the A final.