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SA make seven finals

The 15-strong South African canoe team returns from the weekend’s ICF sprint world championships in Poznan, Poland having reached seven finals.

After four days of intense racing our paddlers can be proud of the fact that despite not managing to win a medal, they contested one A-final, five B-finals and one C-final late. The team return richer in experience and more determined than ever.

Weather conditions in Poznan ranged from extremely windy, to extremely hot, making racing challenging for all of the competitors.

The exciting new 200-metre Olympic distance requires quick responses and power straight out of the block. As a result, the men’s 200m K2 B-final, which was raced on Sunday’s final day of the competition, was plagued with false starts.

Unfortunately during one of the false starts, the powerful pairing of South Africa’s Shaun Rubenstein and Mike Arthur, became the object of some unwanted media attention, when Arthur lost his paddle and while retrieving it toppled out of the boat. The pair were allowed to empty before racing began, but their focus was thrown and they finished in a disappointing eigth position.

In the K2 500m, the duo achieved Team SA’s only A-final, lying fourth at the first split and finishing ninth overall.

Bridgitte Hartley, South Africa’s top international medal scorer in the 1000m K1 event, was unfortunately knocked out of this event after placing seventh in the semi-final. Hartley, however, improved on this performance in the K1 500m events, where she placed fourth in the B-final. At last year’s championships in Dartmouth, Canada, Hartley won South Africa’s first ever sprint championship medal with a bronze in the K1 1000m final.

Also reaching B-finals were Jen Hodson and Tiffany Kruger in the K2 500m (eighth) , Nick Stubbs in the K1 1000m (sixth) and the men’s K4 of Chrisjan Coetzee, Gavin white, PW Basson and Fouche van Tonder (seventh). Stuart Waterworth placed seventh in the K1 200m C-final.

In the K1 5000m Tiffany Kruger placed a credible 11th, less than two minutes behind the gold medalist, Vivien Follath, from Hungary, while Len Jenkins finished 12th out of 28 competitors in a race won by Australian, Ken Wallace.

Despite not being in the medal tally, CSA General Manager, Graham Bird, was positive about the team’s performance, saying: ┬áÔÇ£It is obvious the Lotto funded High Performance plan is starting to achieve results, with more B-finals than ever before from a relatively young squad.ÔÇØ

Bird went on to add that ÔÇ£The results have also shown us, however, that there is a lot of work to do if we are to reach our┬ágoal and objective of achieving podium positions at the 2012 London Olympic Games.ÔÇØ