Toti rower hopes for more than a final

2012-07-25 00:00

SHE may only have started paddling when she was 16 years old, but on August 3, Amanzimtoti High School and Natal Canoe Club product Tiffany Kruger will jet into London to represent Team South Africa in the K1 200 m sprint at the Olympic Games.

Kruger acknowledged that she had started paddling later than her global competitors — she began focusing on sprints only around two-and-a-half years ago — but getting to London is an achievement in itself for the 25-year-old.

“I’m very excited and it definitely is a dream come true,” Kruger told The Witness yesterday. “It is a fantastic opportunity and all I can do is go over there and give it my best.”

Kruger will take part in her heat against seven other paddlers on August 10, where she will need to finish in the top six to advance to the semi-finals.

While she doubts she will win a medal, Kruger has set her sights on making a final. “If I make any kind of final I think that would be a major success for me,” she said after an intense morning training session yesterday.

She will be accompanied by her coach, but Kruger will not have any family flying over to the Games with her. “It’s just so expensive to go all that way to watch a race that lasts 40 seconds,” she said. “Besides, they will probably see more watching it on television.”

If Kruger could take one person on the plane with her, it wouldn’t be mom or dad, anyway.

“I’d take my boyfriend with me,” she said smiling.

“He is really happy for me that I’ve come this far.”

Referring to herself as a “nomad”, travelling between the South Coast and Pietermaritzburg as she prepares for the biggest race of her life, Kruger said the support received from both communities had been overwhelming.

“Everyone has been really fantastic and, to be honest, maybe a little surprised that I have been selected,” she said.

“There will be people back home who I want to impress. All I can do is try my best and hopefully my best will be good enough.”

Kruger is one of South Africa’s two-person paddling team. Bridgitte Hartley, considered a real medal prospect, takes part in the K1 500m event from August 7.

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