Bochum: Success for Junior Kayakers

2009-06-23 00:00

BOCHUM — The nine-strong team of junior South African sprint kayakers left the Ruhr Regatta on Sunday with a haul of five medals. The experience gained from racing against international competitors will be invaluable when they are joined by the full national junior squad for the Junior World Championships at the end of next month.

The Kemnader Lake outside Bochum hosted sprinters from 14 different countries, as well as a number of local German clubs. The standard of racing was a big step up from the local scene for most of the South Africans. However, the team rose to the occasion and coach Attila Adrovicz will be delighted with their performances.

Melanie van Niekerk, from Jan van Riebeeck High in the Western Cape, consistently produced results over the three days, highlighted by a second place in the K1 1 000 metres in the U16 age category early on Sunday morning. She was pipped to the post by Polish youngster Joanna Bruska, but it was just the start the team needed to the day. With her confidence up, she later raced in the U18 K1 500 metres — an age group above her usual. A sixth place in a fast race was no mean feat, and half-an-hour later she was back on the water for the U16 K1 500-metre final. Bruska again set the pace with the South African finishing fewer than three seconds behind in third, and capping off a successful weekend for the solitary woman in the team.

The U23 K2 partnership of Cam Schoeman and Stu Waterworth also netted a double-medal haul, finishing strongest in the 500-metre final. The pair managed to squeeze out the German boat for the silver medal position. Earlier in the day, Schoeman and Waterworth raced in a tough 1 000-metre final, surging to the bronze medal behind the French and New Zealand combinations.

The U16 crew of Blaine Beresford and Ruan Knobel capped off the squad’s medal celebrations by winning silver in the K2 500-metre event on Sunday afternoon. The pair had a tough battle with the young Polish boat, losing out on the line but still finishing over six seconds ahead of the third-placed Irish sprinters.

Simply qualifying for a final is an achievement and all nine representatives did exactly that. Gregor Martin and Frans Smit placed fifth in the U18 K2 500 metres, while Adam Lapacz was seventh in the U16 K1 1 000 metres. The U16 K1 500-metre final had two South Africans on the start line, with Blaine Beresford finishing in eighth position and Dewalt Hattingh in 10th.

The national junior squad has a little over a month to prepare for the Junior World Championships in Moscow beginning on July 31.

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