Saskia Hockly opened Team South Africa’s medal account at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships with bronze in the Junior Girls K1 while Tannah Smith finished in sixth in the same race.
Hockly’s first outing at a marathon world championships was a measured one as she showed that she’s more than comfortable on the international stage.
She spent the entire race at the front with Hungarian paddlers Maja Horvath and Julia Regenye, however when it came down to the final portage Hockly showed signs of fatigue and had to settle for a bronze medal to go with her gold medal at the recent ICF Ocean Racing World Championships earlier this year.
The medal was South Africa’s first at the championships and despite Hockly’s delight in the medal she’s already working on plans to get better going forward.
“I was very stoked with my start and pulled all the way to the top turn and it was just the three of us through the whole race,” the Danville Girls High School matric pupil said.
“I don’t think that I’ve ever had a race that hard before so it was a nice challenge for me and I think in the future I can do a bit more to try and improve my stamina but the other girls definitely deserved their medals.”
“The portage was super long so I didn’t want to burn myself out on the first portage so I ran the first part hard and then eased up a bit.
“The support on the portage is incredible and the crowd was behind me the whole time and I’m grateful to have such incredible support from the South Africans through the race.
“Tomorrow I’ll get back in the boat after I watch my sisters race in the junior K2 before I start preparing for my K2 race with Jenna (Nisbet) on Sunday.”
Smith, who is an Under 16 athlete, was amongst the early chargers however fell off the pace and consolidated her spot in the top ten and is a prospect for the South African team going forward given she has two more years in this junior age category.
In the afternoon session all four South African paddlers in the new 3.4km Short Track senior races made it into the finals.
Bridgitte Hartley finished 13th while young Kira Bester ended up 18th. In the men’s short course race Clint Cook managed a 16th place finish, with Kenny Rice finishing 19th.
Day One – ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships
Junior Girls K1
1 Maja Horvath (HUN) 1:32:30
2 Julia Regenye (HUN) 1:32:42
3 Saskia Hockly (RSA) 1:32:59
6 Tannah Smith (RSA) 1:35:06
Senior Women Short Track K1
1 Vanda Kiszli HUN 16:11.11
2 Lizzie Broughton GBR 16:14.95
3 Kristina Bedec SRB 16:16.37
13 Bridgitte Hartley RSA 17:04.86
18 Kira Bester RSA 17:44.14
Senior Men Short Track K1
1 Jose Ramalho POR 14:19:85
2 Mads Pedersen DEN 14:23:13
3 Ivan Alonso ESP 14:28:59
16 Clint Cook RSA 15:18:64
19 Kenny Rice RSA 15:56:19
Photo: Bridgitte Hartley