Canoe duo make city proud at Games

2014-06-12 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG-BASED young canoe stars Donna Hutton and Brandon Orpwood recently represented South Africa at the second African Youth Games in Botswana with distinction, with Hutton coming away with victory in the girls’ sprint and slalom competitions.

The sprint event used the same format employed in the Youth Olympics, which meant competing on a figure-of-eight course in a pursuit-style race, with the paddlers actually racing an S-shape within the course.

“Turning wasn’t so great because, obviously, we have sprint boats and sprint boats aren’t supposed to turn. They go in straight lines. Otherwise it wasn’t too bad,” Hutton said.

Unfortunately the Games’ rules did not allow a country to have more than one person on the podium, so Hutton had to meet her team-mate Nokukhanya Shange in the quarter-finals, which saw the end of Shange’s challenge for a medal.

Hutton then doubled up, adding another win in the slalom.

Taking two victories in her first international competition secured a place for Hutton at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, in August.

Hutton is a pupil at Epworth and a member of Natal Canoe Club, two of the strongest canoeing institutions in South Africa.

Orpwood, from Maritzburg College, which like Epworth has produced many fine paddlers, was knocked out of the sprint competition in Botswana in an all-South African quarter-final clash by his team-mate Pieter-Ryno van der Westhuyzen, who went on to win gold as the South African team claimed all five gold medals available to them.

Orpwood, meanwhile, captured gold in the slalom and C1 (Canadian) events. After two visits to the Junior and U23 World Slalom Championships, as well as competing in the African Championships in Kenya, the African Youth Games were his fourth international competition.

The participation of the paddlers in the African Youth Games experience in Botswana was made possible by the support of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

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