Canoeist Hodson through to final - SA's best result

2008-08-22 00:00

"I can't believe it! I'm in the Olympic final," said singles canoeist Jenny Hodson, who provided Team SA with its best result of day 13 at the Beijing Olympics when she qualified for the finals in the 500 metres race.

Hodson covered the first half in 54,89 seconds, behind Ukraine's Inna Osypenko and Swede Sofia Paldanius, A second-half charge by Britain's Lucy Wainwright took her through from fifth to reverse positions with a badly fading Paldanius.

"I hung on throughout the last quarter. My body is dead all over - it was pure vasbyt," said Hodson.

She lines up with her team-mates in the K4 finals this afternoon.

"I'm excited about it. The girls are paddling so well it could be something special," said Hodson.

The kayaking quartet earned the right to direct progression to the final by finishing in the top three in Monday's heats.

Earlier in the day, Chad Ho displayed his future potential by finishing ninth in the 10-km marathon swim, which was won by Netherlands Maarten van der Weijden.

Ho hovered between 15th and 20th for most of the race before picking up places in the final sprint to the line to finish ninth in 1:52,131.

"I'm very happy with my swim. I just stuck with the pack for the first laps and tried to go with the sprint at the end," said Ho, a pupil at Westville Boys High. "I had hoped to make the top ten, so I'm very happy with ninth - it was a great experience."

Ho, coached by Alisdair Hatfield, will focus on passing matric before deciding his next swimming goal.

Ho's and Hodson's results apart, it seemed as though Team SA were to be jinxed on day 13 of the Games.

Russian Anton Rykhov powered through the second half of the singles kayak 500 metres event to secure second place in the first semi-final and a spot in the final, but in doing so eliminated South Africa's contender, Shaun Rubenstein.

The Johannesburg-based canoeist held third position behind defending champion Adam van Koeverden and Australian Ken Wallace, through the first half, but was unable to hang on and finished fourth in 1:44,154, under a second adrift of Wallace.

Michele Eray and Bridgitte Hartley, competing in the 500 metres for K2, were never able to move out of eighth position in their semi-final, which was won by the Japanese crew Shinobu Kitamoto and Mikiko Takeya

Calvin Mokoto, an unexpected qualifier for the 500 metres canoe semi-final, finished ninth, well adrift from Hungarian winner Attila Vajda. The 19-year-old from Benoni has steadily improved over the week of competition and has a great future.

With many of the canoeists doubling up on events, there has been speculation that the returns would be better if they were to focus on their most competitive race and gain the full benefit of the rest days programmed in by the organisers.

South Africa's top BMX rider, Sifiso Nhlapo, had a false start to his day yesterday morning when rain postponed the competition for 24 hours.

Nhlapo, who finished third in the recent world championships, and is ranked 11th in the world, won his heat in Wednesday's quarter-finals.

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