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Olympian joins Cape duo

Olympic canoe medal hopefuls Shaun Rubenstein and Mike Arthur’s Cape Town training continues to flourish as they edge ever closer to the London Olympics in 2012.

Training under the watchful eye of coach Marcus Melck, the duo had a welcome boost in March with the arrival of the German 200-metre sprint team for three weeks of training.

Any time spent with a reigning world 200-metre world and 500-metre world and Olympic champion can only be good so the presence of Ronald Rauhe was invaluable.

He arrived with training partner Torsten Lubisch (a World Cup K1 medal winner), new coach Clemens Paarman and also German Federation head coach Reiner Kiebler. Also along for the ride was KwaZulu-Natal paddler Nick Stubbs.

For the period of their stay, the German paddlers were kindly assisted by the SSISA High Performance Center and Peninsula Canoe Club in the use of their facilities and were even treated to an unforgettable downwind ÔÇ£Miller’s RunÔÇØ surfski outing by resident world ocean ski champion Dawid Mocke and other members of Fish Hoek Club.

Also coming on board to help the canoe duo’s progress is Dr Ross Tucker. This comes at a crucial period as the paddling
community gets to grips with the inclusion of the 200m as an Olympic distance.

The shortest of all the sprint events, the 200m poses a number of challenges in the training and racing strategies of athletes who until now have been primarily focused on the longer 500m and 1000m events.

Tucker, as one of South Africa’s leading sport scientists, has been guiding proceedings in his capacity as a strategic consultant to Prof. Tim Noakes. This partnership has been further enhanced by the allocation of a full-time sport scientist for canoeing by SSISA, in the person of Alex Joiner, who conducts the daily monitoring of all athletes on the CSA elite squad and SASCOC’s OPEX (Operation Excellence) programme, as is the case with Mike and Shaun.

Tucker also helps out the SA rugby sevens side, as well as working at the University of Cape Town’s Exercise and Sports Medicine Department and a number of other involvements within the world of elite sport.

Some more background on the calibre of Rauhe. At the 2009 World Canoe Sprint Championships in Canada, Rauhe achieved a remarkable double by winning both the K1 500m and the K1 200m events, in races barely an hour apart. While it has not been unusual for exceptional paddlers to claim victory in both the 1000m and 500m singles events, the ability to move up from the 200m, which lasts 35 seconds, to a winning performance in the 500m, at 1min 36sec is an astonishing feat at World
Championship level.

Late in March Rubenstein and Arthur took part in the Western Cape Canoe Union Sprint Championships that were held on the Berg River in Paarl. The racing was quite a novelty given that the course followed the bend in the river that made for hard racing along with the shallow depth of the water that often was little more than 40cm deep.

The race organisation was, however, very well done and everyone was pleasantly surprised in that the day’s programme ran as scheduled. Rubenstein and Arthur had a field day with Rubenstein winning the 1000m and 500m K1 and Arthur the┬á 200m K1.

The pair teamed up to win the K2 1000m, 500m and 200m to show that their decision to relocate to Cape Town from Johannesburg and Durban respectively looks to be proving a huge succes.