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Van Tonder, Hattingh reach A-Finals at World Championships
- Updated: July 31, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s paddling stars of the future took to the waters of Montemor-O-Velho, Portugal recently for the ICF Canoe Sprint Junior and Under-23 World Championships.
And the fact that two of the youngsters fought their way through to A-Finals bodes well for the next wave of talent to follow in the footsteps of Bridgitte Hartley who won bronze for SA at the 2012 Olympics.
Finalists were Louis Hattingh, making his debut in the Under-23 ranks and he got to the A final of the K1 1000m category where he ended eighth in a time of 3min 39.892sec, seven seconds off the pace set by Spanish winner Roi Rodriguez and then there was young Esti van Tonder who was fifth in her U23 200m K1 semi-final and went to take third in the B Final with a time of 43.096sec, less than a second off the winning time.
Then, in the 500m event the Pretoria product, pictured in Portuguese action above, reached the A Final and took seventh in 1:49.348, just over four seconds behind Hungarian winner Dora Bodonyi.
Not bad going for someone who’s not at the peak of her powers right now due to a niggling shoulder injury. Her problem is an aggravated bursisitis as well as a hooked acromion which causes not inconsiderable inflammation and nerve pain.
‘I think I need an operation but am postponing that until after senior world championships in Milan, Italy,’ she told Road to Rio 2016. ‘For now though, Sport Science Lab SA and PVM are being of huge assistance in my rehab process to try and maintain it as much as possible.
‘My shoulder was a problem throughout the event but I couldn’t allow it to affect me and mentally it was a big obstacle to overcome!’
On her final, she said: ‘It was a hard race especially with the wind favouring some lanes more than others. But all in all I’m very happy with how my body felt during the race and it is also a good indication of where I am regarding my preparation for Senior Worlds in just a few weeks. I left Portugal feeling like my “story” is not quite finished yet…so hoping for a positive and happy ending in Milan!’
Other encouraging performances from SA paddlers were C1 class (one-paddle only) contestants Cornelie Lemmer and Thulani Mathe. The two, who hail from the Academy for Canoe Development, at Roodeplaat Dam in Pretoria, flew the SA flag high being the first women’s C1 paddler and the first junior men’s C1 paddler to represent SA at a Junior and U23 World Championships.
Mathe, along with Phillemon Maema and Hosea Seleka (who will be competing at the Senior World Champs in Milan) will hopefully follow in the footsteps of established C1 canoeist Calvin Mokoto. Lemmer certainly looks like she’ll be making history for SA as far as she goes.
Another excellent showing came from Donna Hutton in the junior girls K1 500m. A resident of Pietermaritzbug, KZN, she raced extremely well and there’s no doubting she’s one to watch for in future competitions.
The 17-year-old product of Epworth High already has a wealth of international experience under her belt, having been to the African Youth Games in Botswana where she won a bagful of medals, and the Youth Olympic Games in China last year.
She made it into the B-final in Portugal after just missing out on an A-final in her semi-final where she finished third, and only first and second qualified for the A-final.
Another final, this time a B-Final, featured the combination of Kayla de Beer and Hutton in the junior K2 500m. After an amazing race the pair finished second but unfortunately were disqualified after their boat was found to be 60 grams underweight.
Picture of Van Tonder, courtesy of Hannes van der Westhuyzen