In-form South African canoeist Bridgitte Hartley won another two bronze medals in Poland at the weekend.
The South African sprint team had a tough weekend of high class racing this weekend at the World Cup event in Poznan, winning two medals and gaining invaluable experience for the upcoming regattas.
Hartley’s two bronze medals in the K1 1000m and longer distance K1 5000m event were the only physical gain for the team, but the exposure at the highest level will do wonders for the rest of the young squad as they work towards the London 2012 Olympics and the medals follow Hartley’s gold and double bronze at the Czech World Cup in Racice two weeks earlier.
Hartley won her K1 1000m heat and semi-final, securing her lane five for Sunday morning’s A-Final. Although racing to her fastest time of the weekend, she was narrowly beaten by Great Britain’s Rachel Cawthorn and Denmark’s Henriette Engel-Hansen. But the bronze medal confirms Hartley’s position as one of the world’s top 1000m women paddlers, and must make Poland a favourite venue for her, following a K1 1000m gold at last year’s Poland World Cup.
In the Olympic distance K1 500m semi-final, Hartley took second place to again make it through to the A-Final, where she crossed the line in seventh place. German Olympic K1 500m bronze medallist and K4 500m gold medallist Katrin Wagner-Augustin won the race.
For most of the squad, the racing was a big step up from the more familiar national regattas, with each event packed with Olympic medallists, world champions and multiple World Cup winners, and Hartley and Shaun Rubenstein, as the most experienced members, were the best performers.
Still, Rubenstein admitted to being disappointed with his results. ÔÇ£I had a disaster 1000m K1 semi-final and only made it through to the C-final. I won the C-final fairly easily but was very disappointed that I never made the A-final.ÔÇØ The K1 500m was kinder to the Gauteng star, as he qualified for the A-Final and finished in seventh place. France’s Sebastian Jouve won the tight race ahead of Canada’s world record holder Adam van Koeverden.
Carol Joyce’s sixth place in the K1 1000m saw her through to the B-Final, while Cam Schoeman and Stu Waterworth’s fledgling K2 partnership will take heart from a fifth place in the K2 500m semi-finals, and the experience of a C-Final where they placed third.
The 5000m races on Sunday were a welcome addition to the regatta, and are not usually included in the weekend racing.
Hartley was able to stay within striking distance of the front women paddlers, but was unable to draw on her usually strong reserves for the final sprint and ended in third to win bronze. In the men’s race, Len Jenkins will be very pleased with his fourth place overall ÔÇô one place ahead of national champion Rubenstein, who spent too much energy playing catch-up after been squeezed off the front bunch early on.
Sponsorship from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund now allows the squad to stay in Europe and race in the third and final World Cup of the year in the Hungarian city of Szeged starting on the 5 June. The paddlers will now stay and train in Budapest for the next two weeks.
Selected A-Final results:
Men K1 500m
1.┬á┬á┬á Sebastian Jouce (FRA) 1:40.299
2.┬á┬á┬á Adam van Koeverden (CAN) 1:40.963
3.┬á┬á┬á Max Hoff (GER) 1:41.335
7. Shaun Rubenstein (SA) ┬á1:43.343
Women K1 500m
1.┬á┬á┬á Katrin Wagner-Augustin (GER) 1:54.444
2.┬á┬á┬á Rachel Cawthorn (GBR) 1:55.652
3.┬á┬á┬á Ana Roxana Lehaci (AUT) 1:55.732
7. Bridgitte Hartley (SA) 1:57.260
Women K1 1000m
1.┬á┬á┬á Rachel Cawthorn (GBR) 3:55.570
2.┬á┬á┬á Henriette Engel-Hansen (DEN) 3:56.222
3.┬á┬á┬á Bridgitte Hartley (SA) 3:38.526
Men K1 5000m
1.┬á┬á┬á Erik Veras Larsen (NOR) 18:00.04
2.┬á┬á┬á Max Hoff ( GER) 18:02.07
3.┬á┬á┬á Cyril Carre (FRA) 18:33.31
4.┬á┬á┬á Len Jenkins (SA) 18:35.31
5.┬á┬á┬á Shaun Rubenstein (SA) 18:42.16
Women K1 5000m
1.┬á┬á┬á Lani Belcher (GBR) 20:38.16
2.┬á┬á┬á Louisa Sawers (GBR) 20:39.45
3.┬á┬á┬á Bridgitte Hartley (SA) 20:46.65