Sprint canoeists gather for SA trials

2009-04-16 00:00

NAGLE DAM — The sprint canoeing season has arrived, with the all-important South African Sprint Trials taking place tomorrow and Sunday at Nagle Dam, outside Pietermaritzburg.

The trials are used by Canoeing SA to select a national squad that will compete overseas at world cup events from May to August. A strong entry of 75 of the country’s fastest canoeists has already been received.

SA’s seven sprint canoeists at last year’s Beijing Olympic Games achieved mixed results, but this year sees the start of a new cycle of training towards the London 2012 Games. Having recently received substantial funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the sport has been earmarked as a strong medal contender for 2012.

Headlining the men’s category is Olympian paddler and multiple national champion Shaun Rubenstein. Having won medals at world cups before, his experience and supreme conditioning make him a firm favourite. “It’s been a huge change-around this year after my coach left for Hungary, and I’m using a completely new approach. But it’s been really enjoyable and I’m looking forward to seeing some results this weekend,” he said.

In excellent form is K2 Marathon World Champion Cam Schoeman, who was crowned Victor Ludorum at last weekend’s KZN Sprint Champs. Schoeman’s Marathon World Champion partner and current Dusi champion, Ant Stott, will also be a contender. Stott has been in a training group with Mike Arthur, Nic Burden and Nick Stubbs, who are all names to look out for at the trial.

Stuart Waterworth has stepped promisingly into the senior ranks, and will be a real threat to the established stars.

Another big-name entrant is 2007 K1 Junior Marathon World Champion Grant van der Walt, enjoying his first year as senior.

Three of the five women who raced in last year’s Olympics will be at the trials, including Jen Hodson, Carol Joyce and Bridgitte Hartley.

The junior categories will feature Emma Horner, Melanie van Niekerk and Esti van Tonder.

Martin van den Bergh and Frans Smit look set for an epic showdown in the U18 Boys category when they go head to head with Stu MacLaren and Gregor Martin.

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