Bridgitte Hartley returns to Hungary for training this week with a smile as broad as her paddle.
Since returning from Hungary she’s had the good news that she was ranked No1 sprint kayaker at this year’s World Cup events and then she returned two excellent victories at the national marathon championships on the Keurbooms River near Plettenburg Bay.
On Saturday she edged out fellow Beiijing 2008 Olympian Michele Eray to win the K1 event and then teamed up with Eray to on Sunday to win the K2 event.
Now it’s back to Hungary for a month or so before she heads off to Halifax, Canada and the world sprint championships.
The women’s race endured its fair share of drama as the combination of one of the pre-race favourites, Olympians Jen Hodson and Carol Joyce, missed the start of the race.
The pair arrived during the second lap, and entered for the final four laps on a time trial basis for selection purposes only. Hartley and local girl Eray were told of the change for the start of their third lap and had to put tactics aside to race against the clock, which they managed to good effect by finishing 19 seconds ahead of Hodson and Joyce.
ÔÇ£It’s easier to race with someone so you can share the work, but the race changed after the second lap and we just had to go as hard as we could,ÔÇØ said Hartley afterwards. t.
Earlier in the race, Lindi-May Harmsen and Abby Adie put in a strong charge at the first portage, but traffic at the put-in from an earlier race allowed Hartley and Eray to sneak ahead, and they immediately capitalised by putting in a strong interval on the water to break away. Harmsen and Adie finished over four minutes behind the eventual champions.
In the men’s race 2006 K1 World Champion Shaun Rubenstein and reigning K2 World Champion Ant Stott raced to a solid victory.
Racing in the overcast drizzle, there was a two-boat breakaway from the first portage. Rubenstein and Stott and Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt dropped three chasers at the put-in, and spent the rest of the seven laps working together to drive home their advantage.
ÔÇ£We tried to put pressure on them at the portages, but otherwise we kept up a steady pace on the water in anticipation for the endsprint,ÔÇØ said Rubenstein afterwards. ÔÇ£We felt that we had the speed for the endsprint so we managed to break away on the final straight.ÔÇØ The win by almost three seconds capped a dream weekend for Rubenstein, that included victory in Saturday’s epic K1 race.
The Junior races ended in two-boat endsprints. In the boys race, the Gauteng combination of Brandon van der Walt and Murray Burgess, who had placed first and second in Saturday’s K1 race, were too strong for Martin van den Bergh and Stu MacLaren. The U16 boat of Gavin Shuter and Ruan Knobel were just over a minute behind in third.
Kerry Malan from Gauteng, managed to kick on from her second place in the K1 race, to partner Jenna Ward to victory in the girls race. The KwaZulu-Natal duo of Lindsey Davis and Jenna Starr were less than a second behind, with K1 junior winner Kerry Segal and Lauren Felgate winning the endsprint for the bronze.
The standard of racing throughout the weekend bodes well for the Marathon World Championships in Portugal from September 18 to 20. As Hank McGregor said afterwards, ÔÇ£When Ant Stott, who was third K1 in the world last year, couldn’t make it onto the K1 podium this weekend, it shows you that this is one of the most difficult national teams to get selected for in the world.ÔÇØ
Main category results
1.┬á┬á┬á Shaun Rubenstein / Ant Stott 2h 04m 51.19s
2.┬á┬á┬á Grant van der Walt / Hank McGregor 2:05:01.93
3.┬á┬á┬á Graeme Solomon / Gavin White 2:10:21.17
1.┬á┬á┬á Michele Eray / Bridgitte Hartley 1:28:15.80
2.┬á┬á┬á Abby Adie / Lindi-May Harmsen 2:02:27.96
3.┬á┬á┬á Robyn Kime / Jackie Barnes 2:05:13.45
U18 Boys K2
1.┬á┬á┬á Brandon van der Walt / Murray Burgess 1:32:01.14
2.┬á┬á┬á Martin van den Bergh / Stu MacLaren 1:32:37.95
3.┬á┬á┬á Gavin Shuter / Ruan Knobel 1:33:40.06 (U16)
U18 Girls K2
1.┬á┬á┬á Jenna Ward / Kerry Malan 1:24:26.07
2.┬á┬á┬á Lindsey Davis / Jenna Starr 1:24:26.93
3.┬á┬á┬á Kerry Segal / Lauren Felgate 1:26:43.17