Canoeing South Africa has named squads for the 2018 ICF Junior & Under 23 Canoe Sprint World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria from 26-29 July, while a smaller group will take part in two World Cup events in preparation for the senior World Championships in September.
The CSA selection committee has picked a team of 12 that will head to Eastern Europe for the Junior and Under-23 world championships, including two former A finalists and one medallist from the championships in 2016.
Jean van der Westhuyzen, who won bronze in the Under-18 Boys 1000-metres two years ago, will be involved in his final year of racing in South African colours while Youth Olympian Donna Hutton, who qualified for both the 200m and 500m A Finals in 2016, will be back and looking to make an impact on the Under-23 ranks.
‘Plovdiv is known to be the fastest course and produces really quick times. Looking at this year’s team and its past results there are definitely two paddlers who will be aiming for positions again in the A finals,’ national sprint chairman Craig Mustard said.
‘Donna and Jean both did really well in 2016 in Belarus making the A final. Donna came away with two seventh place finishes in the A finals and Jean came away with a bronze medal in the 1000m A final.’
Despite Van der Westhuyzen and Hutton leading the charge, the team is going to be made up by a number of U18 paddlers. Mustard is excited by the new crop of paddlers that are coming through and is hoping that they can make the most of their first world championship experience.
‘David Rodrigues made it into last year’s C finals in the U23 K1 200m and judging by his current form he should be able to improve on last year’s results.
‘It’s really exciting looking at the juniors in this year’s team because most of them will be juniors still next year. Paddlers such as Jordy Malherbe and Jacky van der Westhuyzen both won their races at SA Champs this year despite being a year younger than their competitors.
‘Both paddlers are in fantastic form and will be names to listen out for in the future. Jordy will be racing the 1000m and 500m and Jacky will be racing the 500m K1 and 500m K2 event with Keegan Kieser.
The announcement of the team to take on the world’s best in the junior age categories also coincided with the announcement of the South African sprint team that will take part in two World Cups.
The first is in Szeged, Hungary and the second in Duisberg, Germany with the tour taking place from 13-21 May.
Jean van der Westhuyzen, who was the strongest paddler across all age groups when he won the senior Victor Ludorum at the South African sprint championships, will be part of the squad along with Louis Hattingh and Chrisjan Coetzee.
Hattingh and Coetzee have both had previous experience at World Cups and World Championships and will be hoping to hone their skills ahead of the World Championships in September.
Coetzee is the premier 200m K1 paddler in the country, having taken home the national title recently. He also added a second in the 500m behind Van der Westhuyzen to his 200m gold.
On the women’s front, Esti van Tonder and Kayla de Beer are the two paddlers who will be representing South Africa.
Van Tonder is the form paddler at the moment and was the strongest in the short distance K1 races at the national championships while De Beer is still finding her feet in the senior age category.
South African Under-23 and Junior World Championships team:
David Rodrigues, Jean Van der Westhuyzen, Cameron Hudson, Hamish Lovemore, Donna Hutton, Morgan Ziervogel, Jonathan Edwards, Jordy Malherbe, Jackie van der Westhuyzen, Keegan Kieser, Caroline Van Der Linda, Kathleen-Anne Croudance, Manager: Craig Mustard
South African Senior World Cup team:
Louis Hattingh, Jean van der Westhuyzen, Esti van Tonder, Kayla Jaid de Beer, Chrisjan Coetzee, Manager: Phillip Van Tonder
Photo: Youth Olympian Hutton, by Anthony Grotes/Gameplan Media