After months of preparation the nine-strong South African team started competition at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships which started in Portugal on Thursday and end on Sunday.
The team have covered numerous bases in preparation and have entries in the men’s K4, K2’s as well as a number of K1’s. The South African paddlers hope to make an impact ahead of 2019’s Olympic Games cycle.
Among the male competitors who will be taking part is Chrisjan Coetzee who has been having an impressive season in 2018. The Western Cape paddler qualified for two A Finals in the men’s K1 500m at two World Cup events earlier this year.
Even though the 500m event did not turn out in his favour, he heads into the World Champs with hopes of qualifying for the A Final in the 500m and will also paddle the 200m K1 and the 500m K4.
Joining Coetzee in the K4 are Mike Arthur, Nick Weeks and David Rodrigues.
Arthur is no stranger to international competition and both Weeks and Rodrigues have also represented South Africa at international sprint regatta’s in the past.
Weeks and Rodrigues will team up in a K2 for the 200m event.
The youngest K2 that South Africa will be fielding is the duo of Cameron Hudson and Hamish Lovemore. The U23 pair will be racing in the K2 1000m event.
Although the pair were originally selected to race at the Junior and U23 World Championships they opted to race at a senior level to gain valuable experience.
Spearheading the ladies assault in Portugal will be sprint queen Bridgitte Hartley.
The London 2012 bronze medallist has changed her distance for this year’s World Championships and she will be racing the K1 1000m and 5000m races.
Hartley, who has not been to a major sprint event since the 2017 Rio Olympic Games, will be focusing on the longer distances as she builds up to the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships early September.
Esti van Tonder, who produced some solid results at the World Cup earlier this year, hopes to make an impact in the 200m and 500m K1 events, and will also team up with Kayla de Beer for the K2 200m race.
For Van Tonder, this year’s World Championships are going to be an important gauge for her heading into 2019, as she has her sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
South African Team for ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships 2018
Esti van Tonder (K1 200m and 500m K1 and 200m K2), Kayla de Beer (K2 200m), Bridgitte Hartley (K1 1000m and K1 5000m), Chrisjan Coetzee (K1 200m and 500m K4 500m), Mike Arthur (K4 500m), David Rodrigues (K4 500m and K2 200m), Nick Weeks (K4 500m and K2 200m), Cameron Hudson (K2 1000m), Hamish Lovemore (K2 1000m and K1 5000m)
Photos: Coetzee and Hartley in action, by Anthony Grotes/Gameplan Media and supplied