Debate over national team ban

2008-09-02 00:00

Cape Town — Debate is raging in South African canoeing circles over a rule barring paddlers in the senior and junior national teams from the world marathon championships from taking part in the Canon Breede canoe marathon this weekend.

Canoeing South Africa has prevented the athletes chosen for the world champs in Prague in the Czech Republic from taking part in any multi-day event for four weeks prior to the worlds, with the Breede specifically mentioned as an event that is off-limits to the national team.

With several of the marathon team paddlers, such as Ant Stott, preparing abroad, the principal victims of the decision to bar paddlers from racing are Graeme Solomon and Lance King, who have been key figures on the Western Cape domestic season and turned in excellent results in the recent Isuzu Berg marathon.

“I think it is rubbish that Graeme and Lance are not allowed to race the Breede,” said top Cape racer Heinrich Schloms.

“Solly is a very experienced paddler who knows what it takes to peak properly for a race like the World Marathon Champs.

“The reality is that he would be doing two-and-a-half hours’ training anyhow on the days of the race … ,” added Schloms. “There is very little chance of any injury to the paddlers.”

Breede favourite Hank McGregor has a different view.

“It is a privilege and an honour to represent your country at the world marathon champs … ” said McGregor. “Missing the Breede is a small sacrifice to make to make sure you can be in the best possible shape for the world marathon champs.”

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