Sprint champ to end busy season

2016-04-05 06:00
South African sprint ace Bridgitte Hartley (left) will look to continue her impressive build up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio di Janeiro.  Photo:   supplied

South African sprint ace Bridgitte Hartley (left) will look to continue her impressive build up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio di Janeiro. Photo: supplied

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SHONGWENI Dam welcomed the continents best sprint paddlers for the largest African Sprint Championships on record at the weekend rounding off a month in which the new course has hosted a number of national championship canoeing events.
The event has added significance for the majority of the paddlers as the event will decide sevens available continental qualification places for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio di Janeiro in August.
Event organisers have received entries from paddlers from 20 African countries for the K1, K2, C1 and C2 races being covered at the championships.
With the best in Africa expected to fight it out for the limited number of spots at the Rio di Janeiro showpiece the competition will be fierce in the handful of events identified as being Olympic qualifying events.
Three of the canoe events have been highlighted as Olympic qualification events with the men’s C1 200m and 1000m as well as the men’s C2 1000m.
In the more common kayaking disciplines both the men’s and the women’s K1 200m are Olympic qualification events, while the women’s K1 500m and the men’s K1 1000m round out the Olympic qualification races.
The event will be spearheaded by South African sprint sweetheart Bridgitte Hartley, who will use the event as another training event having already secured her spot at the Olympic Games in five months’ time.
Hartley will lead the South African charge at the African Championships in the women’s 500m – the event she claimed bronze in at the London Olympic Games in 2012 – and with a busy Olympic build-up in Europe she will hope to continue her good form.
Team South Africa will also include two C Boat paddlers in the form of Radoslav Olszewki and Calvin Makoto. These two impressed at the recent South African national championships and will fly the flag for the country at the continental showpiece.
The home team will include a number of younger paddlers with U18 stars Jean van der Westhuyzen and Donna Hutton being selected to take on the best in Africa along with Jarryd Gibson.
A number of U23 paddlers have also been included with Louis Hattingh, Calvin Clack and Cameron Hudson leading the charge.
Hattingh was the strongest men’s paddler at the recent South African Championships despite being an U23 paddler, however, there are a number of top sprinters who were not considered for selection for the championships.
Apart from Hartley and Hutton, Melanie van Niekerk and Bianca Beavitt will also be part of the women’s contingent that will take part following their respective performances at the South African Sprint Championships.
The African Sprint Canoe Championships takes place from 1-3 April. More information can be found at canoesa.org.za - Supplied.

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