By Mark Etheridge
Team South Africa’s probable squad for next year’s Olympic Games in London is slowly but surely growing in numbers.
In boat-based sports Bridgitte Hartley was the first canoeist from South Africa to qualify for the 2012 showpiece when she won the B-Final at World Sprint Championships in Szeged, Hungary a few weeks back.
She’s been joined by two rowing combinations after that code’s world championships in Bled, Slovenia.
After a hectic few days racing Rowing South Africa have qualified two boats for the Olympics, the W2 (or women’s pairs in layman’s terms) and the LM4 (lightweight men’s fours).
So that’s another six competitors possibly heading for London next year. Says Rowing SA’s national coach Roger Barrow: “Over the next four months we’ll go back into a squad format of four people for the W2┬á and eight for the LM4.”
Reason being for the squad system is to keep all rowers on their toes in the lead-up to London. “It’s to keep it very competitive as our goal is not to compete at the Olympics but to win at the Olympics so we want to ensure that nobody is entirely comfortable.”
Good news for rowing and SA sport in general is that there could be another boat onboard the London experience. “The M2 (men’s pairs) still has an opportunity to qualify in May next year. We’ve got a squad of six athletes going for this boat and it will be run the same was as the two boats who have already qualified.”
The M2 combination’s chance to qualify will come on May 20 in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Meanwhile the country’s top rowers will be kept fully occupied over the next six months. Their basic schedule looks like this:
Base training at the HPC (High Performance Centre) in Pretoria and Roodeplaat Dam (Pretoria) to 21 November
High training camp ÔÇô┬áBethlehem 21 November ÔÇô 13 December
Base training from 14 December ÔÇô 4 January
Low training camp ÔÇô Tzaneen 5 January ÔÇô 17 January
Base training and domestic season 18 January ÔÇô 28 February
High training camp ÔÇô Bethlehem 1 March ÔÇô 31 March