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SA eye podium in Poland

By Mark Etheridge

It’s all systems go for our top canoeists as they ply their trade around the globe.

The seniors are in Poland for the World Sprint Championships in Poznan, Poland from August 19-22 and two of our top youngsters are in Singapore for the inaugural Youth Olympics.

The seniors willl be hoping to build on Bridgitte Hartley’s bronze medal at last year’s world championships in Dartmouth, Canada — South Africa’s first ever medal at a canoe world championships.

Some of the senior sprint team flew to Dunavorsany, Hungary to fine-tune their preparations for the championships.

The novice K4 crew of Pieter-Willem Basson, Chrisjan Coetzee, Fouche van Tonder and Gavin White are tackling their first World Champs, having previously only competed internationally at World Cup events in France and Hungary.

Also there was K1 specialist Stu Waterworth. He was to have been accompanied by K2 partner Cam Schoeman but Schoeman recently underwent a shoulder operation and stayed at home to recover. In the women’s category rising star Tiffany Kruger and experienced K2 partner Jen Hodson were also part of the squad who have since moved on to Poland.

The team had great facilities next to the River Danube and warm weather conditions for training. All 1000m heats and semis will be raced on Thursday 19 August, 500m heats and semison Friday 20 August and 5000m finals and 200m heats on Saturday. The blue riband 200m finals will be raced on Sunday.

Medal hopes Shaun Rubenstein and Mike Arthur, who relocated to Cape Town from Johannesburg and Durban respectively, to give the 2012 Olympics in London their best shot, had the opportunity to get in some pre-race training with Olympic champion Ken Wallace and the Australian team.

Meanwhile in Singapore Kerry Segal and Luke Stowman will fly the South African flag in the sprint events at the Youth Olympics. The two all-rounders will compete in springing and slalom.

Team manager, Mike Chiazzari, was full of praise for the event thus far, saying: ÔÇ£The Youth Olympic event is very closely run to the senior Olympic format, so everything is very well organised.ÔÇØ

A day after their arrival in Singapore, Segal and Stowman had recovered from their jetlag, and were able to put in some quality training sessions on the top class slalom and sprint course. The sprint events are on 21-22 August, and slalom events on 24-25 August.