McGregor, Mocké make history

2016-09-20 06:00
Jasper Mocké (left) Hank McGregor claim victory in the K2 Men’s clash at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Brandenburg on Sunday 18 September while fellow South Africans Louis Hattingh and Andy Birkett (background  )  PHOTO: Balint Vekassy/ICF/Gameplan Media

Jasper Mocké (left) Hank McGregor claim victory in the K2 Men’s clash at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Brandenburg on Sunday 18 September while fellow South Africans Louis Hattingh and Andy Birkett (background ) PHOTO: Balint Vekassy/ICF/Gameplan Media

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Jasper Mocké, from Fish Hoek, along with partner Hank McGregor have charged back to the top of the world by claiming victory in the K2 men’s encounter, bringing a golden curtain down on the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Brandenburg, Germany on Sunday after three frenetic days of racing.

While McGregor and Mocké surged to victory, compatriots Louis Hattingh and Andy Birkett raced to a hard-fought third place while fast-emerging young talents Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase claimed the silver medal in the K2 women’s event.

McGregor and Mocké’s feat, together with that of Hattingh and Birkett, capped off a memorable weekend of racing for Team South Africa’s senior men after Saturday’s action saw McGregor and Birkett clinch a historic South African one-two in the K1 encounter.

“To win the title is fantastic, to get it back after missing out last year is even better! It’s an awesome feeling to get the title back and having the whole crew here with me makes it so much more meaningful,” says Mocké.

Meanwhile, the weekend was even more satisfying for McGregor.

“I managed to pull off the K1 and K2 double in Oklahoma two years ago and again here today so I’m very happy,” says McGregor.

“I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there and it was an honour representing my country and my sponsors.”

Having won in America in 2014 before being pipped to the post by Adrián Boros and László Solti last year, McGregor and Mocké showed their class by turning the tides on the Hungarian pair this time around and, in the process, McGregor claimed a remarkable eighth world crown.

“I was only as strong as my partner. It was a real team effort,” McGregor says.

The race ebbed and flowed throughout as the dynamics of an unusually large lead group tested all competitors’ tactics and kept everyone on the edge of their seat – none more so than McGregor and Mocké after the latter suffered an illness in the build up to the race.

“Jasper hadn’t been feeling well all week so it was 50/50 as to whether we were even going to race or not,” explains McGregor.

“We had a fantastic race though where we managed to conserve as much energy as possible. Jasper was strong when he needed to be and we’re world champions again so we’re really happy!”

“Tactically we raced a good race; there were 8-10 boats on the front bunch at any one time but we never over-extended ourselves as Hank did really well, surfing us from wave to wave and keeping us well positioned throughout,” says Mocké.

“I knew I only had one 500m sprint in me and I wanted that to be from the last turn to the finish, which is exactly what happened.”

It was not any more straightforward for Hattingh and Birkett as a series of mistakes, including a costly navigational error around a turn buoy midway through the race forced them to work far harder than they would have liked to get back into medal contention.

“We were on the inside coming into buoys at the top turn and with the wind coming from the opposite side, all the water from the other guys’ strokes went straight into my face and half blinded me,” explains Hattingh.

“The next thing I saw was that we were heading straight for the buoy, we pegged it and unfortunately bounced the wrong way so we had to back paddle, come back around it and then try catch up.”

“We missed a buoy at the top turn, which is easy to with all the wind and the chop on the water,” adds Birkett. “Slowly we caught back over the next two laps though and I’m super stoked with the outcome as I really didn’t think that we were going to get a podium today.”

The K2 senior women’s encounter saw the young South African pair of Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase replicate the feat of Alexa Cole and Donia Kamstra in Australia in 2005 as they fought bravely to cling to the tail Renáta Csay and her Hungarian partner, Alexandra Bara.

Having left the rest of the field in their wake, Ward and Purchase went head to head with their more fancied rivals.

“That was the best race of our lives,” exudes Ward. “Racing with Renáta – our role model – was an absolute honour and it was just the most amazing thing we’ve ever done!”

“It was amazing to race against Renáta, she was so strong the whole way and I just kept saying to Jen ‘Come on, let’s hang in there’ and luckily we were able to just keep grinding and made sure the girls behind us weren’t able to catch us!” adds Purchase.

Earlier in the day Team South Africa’s K2 junior boys crew of Jean van der Westhuyzen and Mark Keeling claimed a top five finish while their compatriots Zachery Preyser and Ulvard Hart finished in 15th place.

While finishing outside the medal, the youngsters efforts all added to Team South Africa’s men’s charge that – led by the likes of McGregor and Birkett – saw them claim the Championships’ Kayak trophy for a second year running.


K2 Men:

1.Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocké (RSA) 02:06.28

2.Adrián Boros/László Solti (HUN) 02:06.29

3.Louis Hattingh/Andy Birkett (RSA) 02:06.29

K2 Women:

1. Renáta Csay/Alexandra Bara (HUN) 2:02.09

2.Jenna Ward/Kyeta Purchase (RSA) 2:02.11

3.Zsófia Giczy/Sára Anna Mihalik (HUN) 2:02.31

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