PMB schools dominate sprint canoe champs at Shongweni

2016-04-06 06:00
                                           PHOTO: supplied Epworth’s Donna Hutton dominated the girls’ under-18 section to walk away with the Victorix Ludorum crown at the South African Schools Sprint Canoe Championships.

PHOTO: supplied Epworth’s Donna Hutton dominated the girls’ under-18 section to walk away with the Victorix Ludorum crown at the South African Schools Sprint Canoe Championships.

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PADDLERS from Pietermaritzburg schools shone at the South African Schools Sprint Canoe Championships, which were held at Shongweni Dam on the weekend.

Maritzburg College led the way among the boys and Epworth topped the girls’ points’ scoring.

College paddlers tallied 277 points, led by the victor ludorum Jarryd­ Gibson, who led all U18 points’ scorers with 96. His results include victories in the K1 and K2 500m and similar results over the 200m distance.

College finished well clear of Paarl Boys’ High, who were second among the senior schools with a haul of 125.5, which was marginally ahead of Hoërskool Parys’s 118.5.

Epworth were even more dominant in girls’ competition with the schools’ pupils scoring 359,5 points. Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High was a distant second with 107 and Durban­’s Our Lady of Fatima placed third with 88,5, all of which belonged to Kyeta­ Purchase.

Purchase, though, played second fiddle to Epworth’s Donna Hutton, who won everything she entered and was thus an easy choice as victrix ludorum­. In K1 competition, she won titles over 200 m, 500 m, 1 000 m and 5 000 m, and she doubled up with K2 wins over those distances, teaming up with Purchase on each occasion.

“Donna is on a winning streak of note,” Canoeing SA Sprint chairperson Craig Mustard said.

“I hope she continues it into the African Champs next weekend. She won the KZN Champs, the SA’s and now the SA Schools. We hope we can prolong that into this coming weekend.”

Hutton said: “The 5 000 m win was the most exciting thing for me. I really didn’t expect to take that win. I won at the SA champs, so after that I was feeling a little more confident. It was nice because I lost out to Kyeta at both the SA and SA school champs last year, so to win was pretty cool.”

Added Mustard: “Jarryd Gibson did really well too. He has transformed from being a 1 000 m paddler into a 200 m sprinter and has taken to that really well.” Gibson’s job was made a little easier, though, by the absence of Michaelhouse’s Jean van der Westhuyzen, who missed the event due to illness.

The championships were well attended with almost 100 more athletes than 2014, which pleased Mustard.

“It is encouraging to have such big numbers and it was really well run by Umzinyathi Canoe Club and Kim Pople­. Seeing schools like The Wykeham Collegiate competing in sprints again, and seeing GHS excelling was exciting,” he continued.

There was also good growth in Gauteng, where the introduction of a schools league has boosted numbers and interest.

KwaZulu-Natal is home to the largest number of school children doing paddling and this was also reflected in the number of development competitors, which were also significantly up.

Commenting on the success of Maritzburg College and Epworth, Mustard said: “What really helps College and Epworth is the scoring system, where points only go to the athletes who make the A finals. You could have a relatively small team of six to 10 athletes, but if they are all making it into the A finals they are collecting really big points.

“Schools, like St David’s from Johannesburg, came down with about 30 paddlers, but not many of their athletes made it into the A finals. They battled to accumulate points, but I would like to see that rule change, with paddlers in the B finals being rewarded as well, just to make it harder for schools like College and Epworth, who are traditionally very strong, with other schools with more average paddlers being rewarded.”

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