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Para-paddlers first in action for SA at World Sprint Champs
- Updated: August 18, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Three para-paddlers will get South Africa’s Canoe World Sprint Championships campaign up and running in Milan, Italy on Wednesday.
The 12-strong team have been at the venue since Friday in order to get the para-paddlers finally classified in time for Wednesday’s racing. The early arrival also gave the other 10 padders more time to recover from the long flight up north from Johannesburg via Dubai.
Said team manager and national sprint manager, Craig Mustard: ‘Judging by the team spirits and the quality of today’s training season it’s worked perfectly and we now have the strongest and healthiest team entering into the world championships and Olympic qualifier that we have had in years.’
Para-paddlers Stuart Hogg and Graham Paull, pictured above, have both got some international experience in recent times which will stand them in good stead for Worlds.
‘I believe Graham and Jono Wing will deliver our best results in the Kl1 and Kl3 section and possibly two Paralympic qualifiers. Stu is also at his best levels of fitness since returning to the sport of sprint kayaking and is aiming to break the 60second barrier and achieve a new personal best time.’ Moving on to the able-bodied team and Mustard has high hopes. ‘We have Bridgitte Hartley who has just completed her final European based training camp and has met the team stronger and faster than her London 2012 bronze medal performance. Chrisjan Coetzee has also been focusing solely on the 200m K1 event and has also been training for the past 6 weeks in Hungary to ensure that he is at his best for the weekend’s championships.
‘The K2 crew of Esti van Tonder and Tiffany Kruger will also be exciting to watch, Esti recently showed her individual improvements when she raced to a seventh place finish in the U23 World championships in Portugal.’ And Kruger has the experience of being part of Team South Africa at the 2012 Olympics to fall back on as well. ’Louis Hattingh is also coming off a really good result where he finished eighth in the U23 final at the World championships. All though he is now competing in the senior field at the age of only 19 he still will be aiming at setting a personal best time and finishing as high as possible in the senior ranks.
‘Louis will also paddle the 200m K2 with Gabriel van Wyk after Lambert Fick picked up a shoulder injury at the U23 world champs and could not race with Gabriel at these championships.’
The other three members of the team are all in the C1 category. ‘It’s great to see this discipline coming back into the team,’ said Mustard. ‘The canoe paddlers have also been on international training camp run by the ICF so we really look forward to see what results they achieve at the competition as they enter the international racing stage for the first time ever.’