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Esti and crew know how tough Olympic qualifying will be

National canoeist Esti van Tonder is all too aware of the work needed for our canoeists if they want to be part of the 2016 Rio Olympics, writes Mark Etheridge.

Van Tonder was part of the South African contingent at the recent World Cup in Szeged, Hungary and unlike the previous event in the Czech Republic, the weather played ball.

“We arrived in Hungary happy and relieved that the sun was shining and birds were singing! ┬áThis lifted the spirits of every athlete present at the Szeged World Cup which assured a happy and exciting atmosphere at the course,” she told Road to Rio 2016.

“The Szeged World Cup was named ‘the minor World Championships 2014’ as it was one of the biggest World Cups of the year, with the best of thebest racing for gold!

Racing kicked off on Friday with the K1 women 500-metre heats and semis and competition was fierce with every athlete determined to give it their all.

“After my results at last years World Cup I was ready to improve it and make the B finals. But this goal was shattered after missing the final by .048 of a second against Slovakian Olympian, Ivana Kmetova!”

That send Van Tonder into the next morning’s C-final.

“K4 was up next [see picture right] and the crew was excited to race in some sunny conditions. We progressed through to the semi finals where it was a tight race between SA and Japan. Again we just missed out on the B-final with fractions of a second.

“Timea Paksy showed her skills again in the 200m K1 where she finished third in the B-final.”

Summing up, Van Tonder said: “It has been a learning experience for all of us, giving us a very clear indication of what must be done and the work needed for Olympic qualification in August next year.”