By Mark Etheridge
Our sprint canoeists gained more valuable experience at the second World Cup event of the season in Racice, Czech Republic at the weekend.
The event gave Esti van Tonder and Tiffany Kruger more indication of how their K2 partnership is working as well as the up and coming K4 crew that is shaping to have great international potential going forward.
Van Tonder and Kruger were first up in the K2 and the former says the unseasonal weather caught the South Africans off guard to begin with.
“We arrived in a very cold, rainy and windy Czech Republic, not entirely prepared for the extreme cold awaiting us! After some training sessions and what felt like frostbite on our fingers we were ready and positive about our first step as two new crews.
“The K2 of Tiffany and myself progressed through to the semi-finals on Friday afternoon where we unfortunately missed out on the finals finishing seventh, and missing out on the six qualifying positions.”
The Saturday action presented a new challenge in the form of the equally new K4 combo of Van Tonder and Kruger together with up and coming Kayla de Beer and the experienced Hungarian Timea Paksy, now eligible to compete for South Africa.
“We again progressed through to the semis. Semis was no easy race and we again fell out at this stage. The crews however are very positive and are determined to build on this first step towards our Olympic goal.”
Kruger, together with Bridgitte Hartley, both competed for Team South Africa at the last Olympics in London two years ago. Hartley returned with a bronze medal for her efforts in the K1 500m event.
“Some more time and experience together will see us returning to the international circuit stronger and faster,” reckons Van Tonder. “Timea also competed in the 200m K1 event. She narrowly missed the A final which put her onto the B final where she finished second ÔÇô not too shabby for an athlete who came out of a two-year retirement only five months ago.”