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Medals for Brandon and Len

Team South Africa returned from the ICF World Canoe Marathon Championships in Banyoles, Spain with a silver and bronze medal to show for their weekend efforts.

It was a weekend of tight racing, joyful moments, and bitter disappointments. Brandon van der Walt and Len Jenkins won the silver and bronze medals respectively, while Ant Stott and Graeme Solomon were hindered by boat admin only imagined in a paddler’s worst nightmare, and a scuffle with a Portuguese competitor saw Grant van der Walt’s medal hopes dashed.

The 2010 regatta began on Friday with the Junior and Under-23 racing. In the junior boy’s race, Brandon van der Walt raced a tactically brilliant race to claim the silver, four seconds behind Laszlo Solti of Hungary.

In the Under-23 race, Grant van der Walt, last year’s champion in this category, appeared in control of the race, with the front bunch appearing to wait for him to make a move. At the final portage, Van der Walt reached the jetty on the inside of the Portuguese competitor, Fernando Pimenta. But in the rush to get onto the portage from the jetty,┬á Pimenta stood on Van der Walt’s boat, causing him to take a swim and lose valuable time. The end sprint for the last podium position, came down to Pimenta and van der Walt, with Pimenta claiming the bronze by eight seconds. Van der Walt decided not to appeal the tactics used saying: ÔÇ£That’s racing, and anything can happen in the heat of the momentÔÇØ.

Saturday’s competition saw some superb racing in the in the men’s and women’s K1 categories. After a lapse of concentration on the portage, Michele Eray narrowly missed out on a medal by four seconds, with fellow South African, Bridgitte Hartley, finishing in fifth spot a further 34 seconds back.

Fresh off the international sprint season, in which he has been focusing on the K1 5000m, Jenkins used his supreme fitness and portaging prowess gleaned from his strong river racing background, to race onto the podium and claim a bronze for Team South Africa.

A last minute pairing between Eray and Hartley for Sunday’s senior women’s K2 racing, saw another strong performance, with the combination losing out on a medal to the Norwegian crew by a mere two seconds.

The racing of the men’ss Senior K2 on Sunday closed the competition, and was plagued with drama and boat admin for past senior champion, Ant Stott, and his partner Graeme Solomon. A last minute change of boat as a result of steering issues, saw the race delayed so that Stott and Solomon could compete.

Their misfortune didn’t end there though, with a slipped rudder cable in their replacement boat forcing Solomon to hop out the boat to fix the problem. The pair then managed to race back into contention, until colliding with another boat at a portage and holing the boat. Although, at the back of the field, the pair continued determinedly and in the spirit of true sportsmanship, completed the race in 20th position.

Out of the twenty-five competing nations, Spain topped the leader board with, South Africa in fifth spot, one point behind Germany.

Marathon results
Junior Boy’s K1

2. Brandon van der Walt 1hr 40min 47sec
15. Gavin Shuter 1:44.09

Junior Boy’s K2
9. Brandon van der Walt and Ivan Kruger 1:34.00
25. Divieano Pieterson and Joseph Williams 1:43.06

Junior Girl’s K1
11. Melanie van Niekerk  1:33.17
18. Kerry Segal 1:39.09

Junior Girls K2
10. Jenna Ward and Emma Horner 1:27.12

Under-23 Men’s K1
4. Grant van der Walt 1:57.04
15. Lance King 2:00.56

Under-23 Ladies K1
12. Bianca Beavitt – 1:52.57

Senior Men’s K1
3. Len Jenkins 2:13.58
Marc Holtzhausen, retired

Senior Men’s K2
14. Heinrich Schloms and Ernest van Riet 2:12.55
20. Ant Stott and Graeme Solomon 2:16.05

Senior Ladies K1
4. Michele Eray 2:07.51
5. Bridgitte Hartley 2:08.25

Senior Ladies K2
4. Michele and Bridgitte  1:59.13
14. Lindi-May Harmsen and Abby Adie 2:07.16

Senior Men’s C1
11. Radoslaw Olszewski 2:26.37