By Mark Etheridge
The recent SA Sprint Championships took on a slightly toned down flavour at Roodeplaat Dam in Pretoria but there were nevertheless some encouraging returns.
Traditionally the national sprint championships are in April but Canoeing SA (CSA) have opted to follow the international guideline and the sprint season is slightly longer than in previous years.
Recently back from the World Championships in Germany, Tiffany Kruger and Esti van Tonder both showed some excellent form.
Says Kruger, also part of Team SA at last year’s Olympics in London: “SA champs were successful for me after all the travelling and racing. I managed to place second in the K1 500-metres behind Esti Van Tonder. In my preferred distance, the 200m K1, I placed second to Esti again, after a conflicting start call.
“And the K2 races went well for me. I raced the 500m with Esti and we pulled off a great win, with a good finishing time in the low Roodeplaat Dam.
“The 200m K2 was an interesting one for me as I opted to paddle with up and coming junior paddler Kayla De Beer, we combined pretty well and took the 200m race. She is definitely one to look out for in the future!
“This has been a long and exciting season for me with lots of new avenues explored, but now it’s time for a little rest and then the start of another big base training block preparing for 2014.”
CSA General Manager Travis Wilkinson said: “Esti continued her impressive rise to the top of women’s paddling with dominant performances in the K1 200 and 500m races. It was also very encouraging to see her and Tiffany teaming up in the 500m K2, an event that holds a great deal of promise for these talented athletes.”
The Championships saw some the absence of the big name sprinters like Bridgitte Hartley, Shaun Rubenstein and Sean Rice. Explained WIlkinson: “They were in marathon boats and on the Breede River in preparation for the World Marathon Champs that takes place in Copenhagen starting on 18 September.
“That team is full of previous medal (mostly gold) winners and they are certain to once again show the world the incredible quality of the SA paddlers.”
Hartley is using the World Marathon Championships and the Fish River Marathon as base work ahead of next year already. “She’s rejuvenating her paddling batteries in the competitive, yet camaraderie-filled, environment of marathons and river races,” says WIlkinson. “Sprinting can be very lonely so it’s great to have these team opportunities for her to revel in.”
Craig Mustard was team manager at the recent World Sprint Championships and he has taken notice of young De Beer.
“She’s a very new, fast and very exciting junior who after only a few months of paddling is just 0.3sec behind SA’s top junior girl, Kerry Shuter.”
After the spring championships┬á a team of 12 paddlers was chosen to represent South Africa at the African Sprint Championships in Tunis, Tunisia in early November.
The team will be accompanied by two managers. Three senior men and three senior women will compete and and there’ll be four boys and two girls in the Under-18 competition.
Wayne August and Phillip van Tonder will serve as managers.
The full team is:
Senior men: Martin van den Bergh, Luke Stowman, Joseph Williams
Senior women: Brittany Petersen, Melanie van Niekerk, Nombuso Mzolo
Under-18 boys: Brian le Roux, Eduan Dippenaar, Siyabonga Tylki, Carlton Thantsha
Under-18 girls: Kayla de Beer, Nokhanya Shange