Host nation South Africa and Tunisia bagged the lion’s share of the medals on the final day of the ICF Canoe Sprint African Championships at a rainy Shongweni Dam on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on a highly successful continental titles decider and Rio Olympic Games qualifier event.
South Africa grabbed golds in every event the team entered, but with their athletes not eligible for continental Olympic qualification, much attention was focused on the second place on the podium in those key 200m Olympic K1 and K2 qualifiers.
As they did on the second day of the champs, Tunisia showed their experience and class as they swooped to claim the bulk of the Olympic berths, led by their London Olympian Mohammed Ali Mrabet and strong female paddler Afef Ben Ismail.
‘I am really happy to have qualified for the Olympics for a second time,’ said a delighted Mrabet. ‘I am excited to see the standard of racing so high at the African Championships. ‘I hope I can do my country proud in the Olympics,’ he added.
Compatriot Khaled Houssine echoed that sentiment and noted the significance step-up in the C-boat competitive standard.
‘The level of the African athletes has progressed this year,’ said Houssine. ‘I have qualified for my second Olympic Games now, so I have to continue the hard work to get a good result in Rio de Janeiro,’ said the C1 star.
Tunisia made it a clean sweep of the Olympic berths on offer by winning both individual C boat class finals, with Khaled Houssine taking the men’s C1 African title and berth in the Rio showcase, while Nedra Trabelsi took the women’s equivalent.
London Olympic medallist Bridgitte Hartley used the event as part of her build-up to the Rio Games, and showed unflappable glimpses of her impressive current form as she added a trio of continental sprint titles to her CV.
‘I am enjoying racing again,’ said Hartley. ‘It can be a bit of a shock to do your first race at the first World Cups whereas countries like Australia and New Zealand always get to race each other throughout the season,’ said Hartley.
‘But I don’t want to get too fast too soon either, so I am enjoying just focusing on counting my strokes and learning how to race so that I am prepared for the World Cups which start in two months time.’ she said.
She added that the elevation of the overall standard of paddling in Africa was exciting to witness. ‘To be at this event and see so many athletes and those close races is awesome,’ said Hartley.
‘The close racing comes when athletes work on their technique and conditioning and start to make the step up, which you can see here,’ she added.
With a record number of African countries taking part, it was heartening to see the emergence of seriously competitive talent from nations such as Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique challenging the more established nations like Tunisia, Nigeria, Senegal, Cote d’Iviore and Egypt.
Gold, Silver, Bronze
1 South Africa 12 2 1
2 Tunisia 8 10 2
3 Senegal 2 2 3
4 Mocambique 1 1 3
5 Sao Tome and Principes 2 3
6 Algeria 2 2
7 Angola 2
8 Nigeria 1 1
9 Libya 1
10 Egypt 8
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
BOYS 200M K1 FINAL
1 Jarryd Gibson RSA 38.90sec
2 Otail Khatali TUN 39.97
3 Joaquim Manhique MOZ 43.50
BOYS 200M C1 FINAL
1 Mohammed Seifallah Kendaoui TUN 48.16
2 Manuel Antonio ANG 49.36
3 Roque Fernandes Dos Ramos STP 49.49
GIRLS 200M K1 FINAL
1 Donna Hutton RSA 45.43
2 Khaoula Sassi TUN 46.94
3 Sama Ahmed EGY 50.15
MEN’S 200M K1 FINAL
1 Chrisjan Coetzee RSA 37.39 2 Mohamed Ali Mrabet TUN 37.42
3 Karim Abdelsamie EGY 37.92
MEN’S C1 200m FINAL
1 Khaled Houssine TUN 44.16
2 Abdoulaye Gueye SEN 45.43
3 Joaquim Lobo MOZ 45.76
WOMEN’S 200m K1 FINAL
1 Bridgitte Hartley RSA 43.70
2 Afef Ben Ismail TUN 45.68
3 Menatalla Ali Ahmed EGY 50.72
WOMEN’S 200m C1 FINAL
1 Nedra Trabelsi TUN 59.87
2 Arame Gueye SEN 1:01.39
3 Lilian Jephart NGR 1:02.95
MEN’S 200m K2 FINAL
1 Calvin Clack/Cameron Hudson RSA 35.50
2 Oussama Djabali/Nasreddine Baghjdadi ALG 36.40
3 Karim Abdelsamie/Ali Ahmed EGY 36.63
MEN’S 200m C2 FINAL
1 Khaled Houssine/Mohamed Seifallah Kendaoi TUN 43.56
2 MUSSA Nordino Mussa/ Joaquim Lobo MOZ 44.46
3 Ousmane Goudiam Fall/Abdoulaye Gueye SEN 46.06
WOMEN’S 200m K2 FINAL
1 Melanie Van Niekerk/Bianca Beavitt RSA 43.81
2 Afef Ben Ismail/Abir Ben Ismail TUN 44.59
3 Menatalla Ali Ahmed/Samaa Ahmed EGY 47.87
MEN’S 5000m K1
1 Mohamed Ali Mrabet TUN 17:51.16
2 Jakub Adam CZE 17:53.44
3 Stu McLaren RSA 17:57.14
MEN’S 5000m C1
1 Abdoulaye Gueye SEN 21:04.76
2 Mohamed Serb LBA 21:21.79
3 Buly Da Conceicco Triste STP 21:32.75
WOMEN’S 5000m K1
1 Bridgitte Hartley RSA 19:31.89
2 Abir Ben Ismail TUN 21:56.52
3 Combe Seck SEN 23:10.93