Twenty-one-year-old Kayla de Beer (Tuks) achieved a huge personal milestone in Szeged, Hungary at the weekend when she competed for the first time in the A final of a World Cup sprint event.
She and Esti van Tonder finished seventh in the K2 race over 200-metres which isn’t at all bad, considering they only recently teamed up as a crew. The only other other time De Beer competed at a World Cup was in 2014 when she was part of a South African K4 boat.
Chrisjan Coetzee was the other South African canoeist who competed in an A-final. He was ninth in the K1-race over 500m. Spain’s Roi Rodriguez won in 1 min 35.14 secs while Coetzee’s time was 1:44.46.
Lisa Carrington and Aimee Fisher (New Zealand) won the women’s K2 race over 200m in a time of 35.93 seconds. Réka Hagymási and Ágnes Szabó (Hungary) were second in 36.82 and Blanka Kiss and Anna Lucz (Hungary) third in 36.91. The South African crew clocked 38.65.
‘We are pleased with our result as we aimed to qualify for the A final,’ said De Beer. ‘It’s never a real excuse, but we were slightly tired when we lined up for the final as both of us competed in other races in between the K2 events. The whole World Cup experience was exciting, and I must admit being slightly intimidated at first as I wasn’t used to racing at such an intense level.
‘I’m now more motivated. Esti and I realise that there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I’m sure that as we gain more international experience, we will become more competitive and faster, ‘ said the Tuks canoeist who will also compete at the Duisburg World Cup in Germany.
It was Bridgitte Hartley, 2012 Olympics bronze medallist, who convinced De Beer to take up sprint canoeing. According to De Beer, she was an avid provincial hockey player, but Hartley’s passion for sprint canoeing got her interested in trying something new.
‘I was the only one at my school who decided to attend Bridgitte’s sprint canoeing clinic. Off the bat, I was good at it. Six months later I represented South Africa at the African Championships. The next year I was selected for the World Junior Championships,’ said De Beer who was only 15 at the time.
Photo: De Beer in training action, by Reg Caldecott