Canoeing South Africa
4 Apr 2016
Written by: Kyle Gilham
McGregor & Hartley crowned Africa’s best
Durban – At a gala dinner in Hillcrest on Sunday evening, South African
paddling icons Hank McGregor and Bridgitte Hartley were named African Canoe
Federation’s Men’s and Women’s Paddler of the Year for 2015, bringing down
the curtain on the 2016 ICF Canoe Sprint African Championships held at
Shongweni Dam this past weekend.
The three days of racing saw team South Africa dominate the Continental
Championships and 2016 Olympic Games qualifier’s proceedings, with the host
nation going on to top the final medal standings with fifteen medals, twelve
of which were gold.
McGregor, who did not take part in the sprint event but has excelled on both
locally and internationally over the past decade, resulting in him being
named the World Paddle Awards Male Paddler of the Year in 2014, was thrilled
by the award from the Confederation of African Canoeing (CAC).
“It is a great honour to receive this award and be recognized on a
continental level, especially coming off the back of winning the Paddler of
the Year title at the World Paddle Awards last year,” said McGregor.
“It’s a proud moment for me and hopefully it helps my paddling peers,
especially the youth, aspire to do their best and also realise that if they
are willing to put in the hard work then the results and accolades will
come,” he added.
Hartley, the 2012 London Olympics K1 Women 500m bronze medallist, added her
appreciation for the continental recognition.
“It is great to be recognised by your peers on the African continent,” said
Hartley. “I hope this can serve as further motivation for the other female
paddlers in Africa to keep working and driving the competitive standard of
Having already secured Olympic qualification at last year’s World
Championships, the continental clash presented Hartley with another good
opportunity to continue her preparations for the Rio de Janeiro showpiece in
“Having had all this racing at Shongweni – just down the road from where I
stay – over the past few weeks has been great and I definitely think it has
benefitted me,” she confirmed after winning her K1 Women 500m clash.
“I’ve been able to compete at the KZN Champs, SA Champs and now the African
Champs all on the same piece of water and while being an outdoors sport and
so conditions obviously change, it has been nice to be able to compare a few
races and say ‘yes, I’m on track of Rio’.
“I was happy with how things went; it got a bit hard at the end and I slowed
up a bit but it’s a good starting block for me.
“I’ve got almost two months before my first major competition still and if I
can do a 1:55 in South Africa then I think I’m on track at this stage!” she
Hartley, who also claimed victories in the weekend’s K1 Women 200m and K1
Women 5000m events, joined Bianca Beavitt and Melanie van Niekerk (K2 Women
500m and K2 Women 200m) and young Donna Hutton (K1 Junior Women 500m and K1
Junior Women 200m) as Team South Africa’s four multiple title winners.
“I really enjoyed the course at Shongweni Dam; it’s one of the nicest
courses I’ve paddled on in South Africa,” explained Under-18 athlete Hutton.
“It was also great to have had the opportunity to get to know the course and
the conditions at SA Champs and SA Schools that took place over the two
weekends before African Champs!” she added.
Under-23 talent Louis Hattingh came close to securing the K1 Men 1000m
title, narrowly missing out to Tunisia’s Mohamed Ali Mrabet, but went on to
win the K2 Men 1000m with Stu Maclaren while Jean van der Westhuyzen was in
a class of his own in the K1 Junior Men 1000m.
“This is my first African Champs so it was nice to get the win and my first
continental title,” explained Van der Westhuyzen.
“It was great to race another 1000m race before World Champs in July, which
is my next major focus before I try to make the marathon team for Worlds,”
added the Michaelhouse pupil.
The 200m events also saw Team South Africa well represented with victories
by Jarryd Gibson (K1 Junior Men 200m), Chrisjan Coetzee (K1 Men 200m) and
Calvin Clack and Cameron Hudson (K2 Senior Men 200m).
Maclaren added a bronze medal to his tally with his K1 Men 5000m effort
while Calvin Mokoto and Radoslav Olszewski repeated the feat in the C2 Men
More information can be found at
Click to download the hi-res
Africa Logo (GIF).
Bridgitte Hartley rounded off
a successful weekend's racing at the Canoe Sprint Africa Championships at
the Shongweni Dam by claiming the African Canoe Federation’s Women’s
Paddler of the Year Award for 2015.
South African paddling icon
Hank McGregor's incredible success both locally and abroad saw him named
African Canoe Federation’s Men’s Paddler of the Year for 2015 on Sunday
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