Hartley is SA’s best hope for Olympic K1 medal, as Kruger sets sights on Rio

2012-07-20 00:00

DURBAN — Bridgitte Hartley and Tiffany Kruger enter the final phase of their preparations galvanised in their belief that they can achieve their Olympic goals in the finals of the sprint canoeing racing at the regatta course at Eton Dorney in Berkshire and keep alive the nations hope of a first ever Olympic kayaking medal.

Hartley knows she has the ability to challenge for a medal, given her form of the past 12 months that has seen her win world cup medals in her key 500 m K1 discipline, and post an unofficial world record over this distance at last year’s world championships.

The 29-year-old Richards Bay-based speedster knows she has to replicate that form in three big races to put herself in a position to reach the podium and scoop a medal desperately wanted by Team SA, and she is determined to minimise the distractions and race it like any other regatta.

“I am treating it as just another competition,” said Hartley from her training base in Linz in Austria where she has been working with her coach Nandor Almasi alongside Austrian and Slovakian team members.

“Of course everyone’s dream is to stand on a podium with an Olympic medal around their neck, so naturally I have that in my mind as well.”

Kruger can afford to take a totally different approach to the London Olympics as she is going to her first Olympics as part of a long-term strategy by the national Olympics body, Sascoc, to blood talent with Rio de Janeiro 2016 in mind.

Kruger will be in the 200 m K1 races in London that have been introduced to provide a more spectator-friendly event than the 1 000 m format, and has attracted plenty of interest from the major sprint paddling nations.

The Amanzimtoti-based 25-year-old is coached by Hungarian former Olympic medallist Attila Adrovics, and has been training out of her base at NCC in Pietermaritzburg, mindful of the fact that the tough 200 m distance is very unpredictable.

“Anything can happen over 200 metres,” says Kruger. “I have trained hard and my goal is to make a final, either a B final or an A final if things go my way.”

She also uses her position in the new pro team as a source of motivation. “I look at the results of the other paddlers on the team who are doing really well and I want to match that and feel like I have made a contribution to the team.”

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