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Bridgitte, Shaun lead way

SA Sprint canoeists enjoyed a weekend of fierce competition at the SA Sprint Kayaking Championships held at Nagle dam outside Pietermaritzburg.

The SA Champs, which doubled as the selection trials for the team to compete internationally at the Sprint World Cups, gave a clear indication that the level of SA sprinting is on the rise, and with only a year to go until the trials for the 2012 London Olympic games, this is exactly what CSA and SASCOC hoped to see.

In some of the hottest competition ever seen at an SA Champs, it was the standout performances and consistency shown by Bridgitte Hartley and Shaun Rubenstein that saw them claim the much coveted Victrix and Victor Ludorum titles.

While many athletes chose to focus mainly on their speciality events, Hartley competed in all of the events on offer saying ÔÇ£ Although the K1 500m is the event the most important┬áfor me in order to secure my spot in the World cup team for this distance, I feel that any racing is great training, and to be named the SA Sprint Champs Victrix Ludorum is a very nice achievementÔÇØ.

Hartley went on to say that ÔÇ£the competition has been good at this years SA Champs — things are looking positive for South African sprint kayaking as there are a lot of good paddlers┬átaking part┬áand there is a solid challenge for every raceÔÇØ.

Some of the most exciting racing of the weekend took place in the new Olympic 200m distance. In the men’s 200m events,┬áRubenstein along with K2 partner Mike Arthur took the gold in a show of raw power and intense concentration. However in the K1 200m event, Arthur narrowly beat Rubenstein across the line to claim the top podium position.

In the women’s K1 event, Jen Hodson and Hartley fought neck and neck over the 200m distance┬áwith Hodson finally surging ahead to claim victory by the narrowest of margins. Continuing this streak, Hodson and Tiffany Kruger, snuck across the line less than a second ahead of Hartley and Michele Eray in the K2 200m event.

Runner up to the Victor Ludorum title, Nick Stubbs, who showed incredible form this weekend with stellar performances throughout the competition, praised the work of CSA saying that ÔÇ£It would be very difficult to train as hard as we do without the support of the National Lottery Distribution trust fund and CSAÔÇØ

Looking ahead, CSA High Performance Co-ordinator Greg van Heerden┬áis confident in the athletes’┬áprogress and results: ÔÇ£The squad is looking good heading towards the Olympic Game in London in 2012. This trial showed that the squad has lifted their game, and will hopefully continue to lift their game heading toward the Olympic trials next year.ÔÇØ

In May, the newly selecting World Cup sprint squad heads off to Vichy (France) and Szeged (Hungary) to see how they measure up in the international sprint kayaking arena.

World Cup Sprint team (Vichy and Szeged)

Shaun Rubenstein
Mike Arthur
Nick Stubbs
Len Jenkins
Cam Schoeman
Stu Waterworth
Greg Louw
Ryan Louw
Pieter-Willem Basson
Gavin White
Chrisjan Coetzee
Fouche van Tonder
Bridgitte Hartley
Jen Hodson
Calvin Mokoto (C1)

The women’s K4 joining the team for the second World Cup┬á in Szeged, Hungary, will be:

Tiffany Kruger
Lindi-May Harmsen
Rochelle van Coller
Esti van Tonder