SA paddlers through to semis

2008-08-19 00:00

The action at the Shunyi Canoeing Park saw Shaun Rubenstein qualify through to his second semi-final of the week when he finished fifth in the heats of the 500-metre single Kayak event.

Rubenstein powered over the first 250 metres to pass the halfway mark in third, less than a second behind Canadian Adam van Koeverden and Italy’s Michele Zerial.

The South African was caught by New Zealander Steven Ferguson and Norway’s Eirik Larsen, who moved from fifth to second in the second 250 metres.

“When we came down to breakfast to hear that we had a medal, it was a huge morale-booster,” said Rubenstein. “My tactics were to go out fast and secure the semifinal place. That will be huge, it’s knock-out stuff — there are six of seven guys who are in contention.”

Calvin Mokoto was again far off pace, finishing last in his 500-metre heat. However, the Benoni-based 19-year-old will gain valuable experience from competing in his first Olympics.

Belarusian Aliaksandr Zhukovski won the heat in 1:48,669, with Mokoto 14,7 seconds behind, but with seven boats progressing through to the semi-final he will live to fight another day.

Jennifer Hodson, one of the K4 quartet who on Monday qualified for Friday’s final, finished third in her 500-metre singles heat yesterday. After a slow start in fifth at the halfway mark, Hodson overtook Japan’s Shinobu Kitamoto and Poland’s Malgorzata Chojnacka.

Hodson faces a heavy week of racing, mixing tomorrow’s K1 semi-final with Friday’s K4 final, which will make recovery one of the biggest challenges for the 29-year-old.

“I’m looking forward to the semis on Thursday. Hopefully you will see some better races from me,” said the Johannesburg-based canoeist who is originally from Creighton in the KZN midlands.

“I’m happy to do both events. I feel incredibly privileged.”

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