Continentís best converge on Shongweni Dam for African Sprint Champs
Shongweni Ė Following a festival of sprint paddling action over the past
month, the much anticipated, 20-country strong Canoe Sprint African
Championships will round off a busy local sprint season at the already
highly commended Shongweni Dam sprint course just outside Hillcrest from 1-3
The African Championships come to Shongweni with added spice in 2016 with
the event having been allocated seven qualification spots for the 2016
Olympic Games, providing much additional incentive for many of the paddlers
The events that have been singled out in the canoeing category are the C1
Men 200m and 1000m races as well as the C2 Men 1000m clash while in the more
popular kayak category, the K1 Men and Women 200m events together with the
K1 Men 1000m and the K1 Women 500m tussles will be the events most closely
watched due to Olympic qualification status.
Despite South African sensation Bridgitte Hartley set to compete at the
continental showpiece, much of the focus will be on the paddlers from the
other 19 countries to see whether they qualify for the global showpiece in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later in the year after Hartley already booked her
place at the event through her 2015 World Championships and recent 2016 SA
Along with Hartley, the weekendís racing will see the return of four other
Olympians with all of the quartet once again looking to finish first in the
respective events in order to book their ticket to the Olympics.
Mohamed Ali Mrabet represented Tunisia in the Menís K1 200m and 1000m races
at the London Olympic Games in 2012 with his best result being a semi-final
in the 1000m whilst fellow Tunisian Afef Ben Ismail was the womenís
representative in the K1 200m and 500m in London.
The two Tunisians will be joined this weekend by the Angolan canoe pair of
Nelson Henriques and Fortunato Pacavira with the former having raced in the
Menís C1 200m whilst the latter raced in the C1 1000m before the pair
combined for the Menís C2 1000m. In all three races they were eliminated in
the semi-final stage.
Team South Africa will once again be the team to beat however this time
around the host nationís squad is filled with young paddlers, just starting
to make their way on the international scene.
The likes of Cameron Hudson, Calvin Clack and Stuart Maclaren join the more
experienced Louis Hattingh and Chrisjan Coetzee in the senior ranks while in
the ladies division Hartley spearheads the attack as she starts her
fine-tuning before her trip to South America, with Bianca Beavitt and
Melanie van Niekerk joining her in the senior ranks and the impressive Donna
Hutton looking to hold the junior girls fort for Team South Africa.
The junior boys section includes two South African paddlers in the form of
Jarryd Gibson, who was victorious at the recent SA Schools Championships,
and Jean van der Westhuyzen, who dominated the week before at the South
African Sprint Championships at the same Shongweni venue.
C-boat paddling is still in the developmental stage in South Africa however
there will be three South African representatives taking part in the
With the withdrawal of Calvin Makoto, paddlers Phillemon Maema and the young
Thulani Mathe have been included alongside Radoslav Olszewski.
Maema comes into the team having competed at the ICF Canoe Sprint World
Championships in 2015 and will add experience to the team along with the
Countries taking part:
Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Cote d Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya,
Libya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Soa Tome
& Principe, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia.