Paddock bodyboarder flies flag for South Africa

2012-12-14 00:00

PADDOCK teenager Georgi McKeone recently emerged on the international bodyboarding stage as she clinched a copper medal for South Africa at the International Surfing Association World Bodyboarding Championship in Venezuela.

The petite teenager showcased her budding talent in the Under-18 girls’ division before being eliminated by eventual world champion Shiori Okazawa of Japan.

It was always going to be a tough task for the 14-year-old to compete against the world’s best 18-year-olds on Margarita Island, but McKeone shone.

The South African team of McKeone, Iain Campbell, Tristan Roberts, Matthew Lombard and Pamela Bowren were placed fourth overall, with Brazil being crowned 2012 world champions.

“It was such an honour to go do the thing I love while representing the country I love,” McKeone told The Witness on her return to South Africa this week.

She said it hadn’t sunk in yet that she had returned from her first international competition with a copper medal.

“I just can’t believe that I actually went to the World Champs in the first place. I’m just glad that I can say I’ve competed at the World Champs.

“I know I’m very lucky to have participated at such a young age, so I took every opportunity I could to learn more,” McKeone said.

McKeone said the trip was “surreal” and she believes the experience will stand her in good stead as she continues to carve out a name for herself locally and abroad. “It was such a different world compared to the one I know and it was such an experience. It will definitely benefit my bodyboarding career.

“I learnt more [about] how the judges score how you ride and I now know what’s expected of me and I got a lot of exposure, so I’m sure it will be easier for me to go to World Champs again. Now I can work towards setting the bar higher for myself and having a goal to do it again and more competitively,” said the determined teenager.

South African team manager Sean Oberholzer said he was satisfied with the team’s showing, which saw Campbell win gold in the dropknee final, 15-year-old Roberts scoop silver in the under-18 boys’ final and Bowren place fourth in the women’s final. Lombard was eliminated before the men’s final.

“It was a great event and our team were very proud to represent South Africa at the World Championship. Coming from South Africa, we were not used to surfing the smaller waves of Venezuela,” said Oberholzer.

“Nevertheless, the team did South Africa proud and brought back one gold and produced three finalists. The top four teams were very close in the overall points, so I am happy with the results.”

• sports@feveronline.co.za

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