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Hartley hard at work

By Mark Etheridge

Bridgitte Hartley, our top sprint canoeist and 2012 Olympic Games medal hopeful, is hard at training in Europe.

Memories of her holiday back in South Africa over the festive season are rapidly fading as she looks ahead towards the competition season that looms ever closer.

The Richards Bay paddler is currently in Europe, Austria for now. “I’m in Linz with my coach and training with the Austrian girls,” said Hartley on Friday.

“I’m about to head off to Switzerland for two weeks, going skiing with the British kayakers. I’m very excited about this trip and it’s to lots of different venues which makes training more exciting.

“After I get back from Switzerland I’ll prepare for a training camp back in South Africa (Port Edward) with some Hungarian, Austrian and South African girls.”

Hartley was at pains to point out the value of her international training. “It’s a very important block of cross-training for me now, the last block before I start paddling more as it gets closer to the competition season in May and June for the World Cups and then World Championships in August.

“Training days are different now as we got to training in the dark and come home in the dark but it’s all such an adventure.”

The quality of competition is also a huge plus for the South African. “I have training partners who can challenge me and are often better than me so I train much harder for this period than I would training alone in South Africa. There are more good girls over here to train with and they all have different strengths to it’s not always one person who is the best at everything.”