The 2018 ICF Junior and Under-23 Sprint World Championships started in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on Thursday and the South African squad of nine men and women are eyeing out some strong performances against the world’s best.
The task is a daunting one for the South African squad who very rarely see competition as strong as the competition that they will come up against this week – but gaining as much experience as possible for the first-timers and building on previous experience for the others will be crucial.
African Youth Games team-member and Youth Olympian Donna Hutton will be one of the old hands in the squad and she produced a bit of history on 2016 when she qualified for both the 200-metre and 500m A Finals at the Junior World Championships.
Hutton is in her second year of Under-23 this year and will be hoping to make her mark in the 200m K1 and the 500m K1.
The other returning face is David Rodrigues. The Gauteng man from Dabulamanzi Canoe Club will be racing in the U-23 200m K1 race and is hoping that he can qualify for an A Final.
There are scores of U18 paddlers taking on the challenge this year with Jonathan Jooste and Jordy Malherbe leading the boys charge and Jackie van der Westhuyzen, Kate Croudace, Caroline van der Linde and Keegan Kieser in the girls races.
Jooste will be racing in the 200m K1 race while Malherbe will take part in the 1000m K1 and 500m K1. Both are hoping for A Finals. Malherbe is only 15 years old, and is using the event to gain as much experience as possible.
Croudace will be taking on the longer race with her eyes set on an A Final in Under 18 Girls 1000m K1, while Van der Linde is also hoping for an A Final in the Under 18 Girls 200m K1.
Morgan Ziervogel will be taking on the Under 23 1000m K1 race.
There’s only one K2 boat taking part in the World Championships and that features Keegan Kieser and Jackie van der Westhuyzen.
The pair will be racing in the Under 18 500m race and Van der Westhuyzen will also be paddling in the 500m K1 event.
Photo: The SA team taking part in the ICF Junior and U23 23 Canoe Sprint World Championships(from left): David Rodrigues, Keegan Kieser, Caroline van der Linde, Kate Croudace, Jackie van der Westhuyzen, Morgan Ziervogel, Donna Hutton and Jonathan Jooste (Absent: Jordy Malherbe).