Canoeing South Africa
8 Mar 2016
Written by: Nick Tatham
Green light for Shongweni sprint course ahead of SA Champs
Durban – As the country’s best flatwater sprint canoeists converge on the
newly established sprint course at Shongweni Dam, the course passed its
first serious test with flying colours at the KZN Sprint Championships on
As the venue is set to play host to the national, South African Schools and
the African Sprint Championships all within the next four weeks it was vital
that the course made the grade.
“I really thought that it was one of the best courses I have raced on in
South Africa!” 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley said after
the KZN Champs. “The course is definitely up there with international
standards as it has just as many buoys as you would see on an international
“This is important in working out where you are during a race in relation to
the other boats,” she added.
With the Shongweni Dam facility on her doorstep Hartley will have a great
venue to train at in the future however with a busy schedule leading into an
important season in Europe she will be unable to use it.
“It would be really great to train on the course, it is that good. It is
very different to the course that we used at Roodeplaat last year which will
be a bit more favourable for the racing that is coming up this weekend.
“I won’t be able to get on to the course this week unfortunately but I am
not too worried at this stage because it is so early in the season. A lot of
the girls in Europe would only have been on the water for a month so far
this year,” Hartley mentioned.
Despite having qualified for the Olympic Games Hartley will need to win her
national championships in order to retain her place at sports greatest show
which adds slightly more emphasis to the event in an Olympic year.
“I just have to make sure that I cross the line first,” she reiterated. “It
is quite a difficult one for me and the course means that we won’t be racing
world beating times with a strong head wind around but I want to win and
then just dissect the way in which I raced.”
The African Sprint Championships will potentially be the next event on the
calendar for Hartley and despite the event having no qualification status
for her she has eyed it out as another event through which she can continue
“I just want to take everything one race at a time at the moment.
“It is really early season and you don’t want to be peaking too early but
the African Champs will be a good way to see where I am before going into
the European season.
“I am not too sure about the criteria but I would assume that I am not able
to compete in the Olympic qualification races.
“They might have to separate the races like they did in the previous Olympic
cycle but we will see what happens at the event,” a relaxed Hartley
The African Sprint Championships take place at Shongweni Dam from 1-3 April.
For more information go to canoesa.org.za.
Click to download the hi-res
Africa Logo (GIF).
The recent KwaZulu-Natal
Sprint Championships were the first major event to take place on the new
Shongweni Dam sprint course and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte
Hartley (front) joined Donna Tutton and gave the course rave reviews with
the South African Sprint Championships coming up this weekend at the same
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