By Mark Etheridge
Some more South African Paralympic history will be made in Duisberg, Germany this week.
That’s when young Stu Hogg becomes the first canoeist that Canoeing South Africa (CSA) sends to this week’s World Sprint Championships.
Hogg, 24, hails from KwaZulu-Natal and his family are involved in the timber trading industry. Currentlly studying and training at Varsity College in Pietermaritzburg, he has already got national sprint colours at Under-18 and Under-23 levels.
Then, a few years ago, he was involved in a car crash that left him with spinal and head injuries.
But there was still hope for Hogg, as his manager for the World Championships, explains: “It was during his rehabilitation that para-canoeing became an Olympic event for Rio 2016. So the dream of representing South Africa at the Olympics one day, which seemed to have been taken away from Stuart, once again became a reality.
“Stuart has been training hard the last two years. He’ll willundergo his official classification in Duisburg before events start, but it is expected that he will be classified in the LTA (legs, trunk, arms) category.
“This time round the event is going to be treated as a bit of a learning curve to see what the competition levels are like. I would expect that he’d be happy to make a semi-final first time around. As a federation we will not be putting pressure on him at this event to excel, it’s been a long road back and we are just happy he has made it this far.”
Also at the sprint championships will be Olympic K1 bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley and fellow Olympian Tiffany Kruger. In an exciting development, those two, together with Estie van Tonder (fifth in the K1 500m final at the recent World Under-23 championships) and teenager Kerry Shuter, will team up in a K4 combination that holds great potential.