Hartley leads the SA charge

2014-08-07 00:00

MOSCOW — Five of South Africa’s best flat-water sprint paddlers, headed by ­Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, have completed their preparation and have settled into their base in Moscow for this week’s ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.

Hartley clinched a memorable third place in the women’s K1 500 m in London two years ago and the blonde powerhouse will be hoping for another strong showing at this year’s World Championships as she builds towards 2016’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

After spending some time training in Szeged, Hungary, and mentoring the South African squad through their junior and U23 World Championships, Hartley has spent her final week of her own World Championships build-up training in Ottensheim, Austria.

Hartley and her coach and manager Craig Mustard arrived in Moscow on Sunday, where they met the other members of the South African squad — Alisdair Glass, Anthony Collopy, Chrisjan Coetzee and para-canoeist Jono Wing.

“The team arrived on Friday and have been doing their best to get over any jet lag they may have experienced before Bridgitte and I got in two days later,” said Mustard.

Apart from settling in after their travels, the South African contingent will need to adapt to the exceptional heat if they are to achieve their individual goals.

“It is about 35° Celsius to 40° Celsius here at around midday, so it’s extremely hot, and managing our paddlers in-between their heats, semis and finals by keeping them out of the sun and as cool as possible, will be important,” said Mustard.

Today sees Cape paddlers Glass and Collopy with their men’s K2 1 000 metre heat and, hopefully, semi-final, before tomorrow’s busy programme sees Hartley make her maiden appearance at the championships, when she does duty in the women’s K1 500 metre heat and semi-final, as well as the women’s K1 200 metre heat later that evening.

Coetzee will also be in action tomorrow as he competes in the men’s K1 200 metre heats. Glass and Collopy then hope to qualify for Saturday’s finals, while Sunday is make or break for Hartley and Coetzee as they hope to be in action in the finals of the women’s K1 500 metre and 200 metre, and men’s K1 200 metre finals, respectively.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Bridgitte, Alisdair, Anthony, Chrisjan and Jono, as they prepare to race against the best that the world has to offer,” said Canoeing South Africa’s head of the sprint committee, Neil Evans. “The paddlers have given up a lot in order to have got themselves into this position, and we wish them everything of the best for this year’s Worlds. We look forward to the entire team doing South Africa proud!” he said.

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