Canoeing South Africa
01 June 2016
Written by: Nick Tahtam
Confidence returning ahead of Rio for sprint star Hartley
Durban – Having had a poor start to the international ICF Canoe Sprint World
Cup season in Germany, South African sprint queen Bridgitte Hartley found
her radar as she paddled to a respectable sixth place in the K1 Women’s 500m
A-final at the second Canoe Sprint World Cup in Račice, Czech Republic over
Hartley’s efforts in Račice were pleasing for her as she felt she was well
behind the rest of the field at the opening World Cup there week before,
having to settle for a C-final.
However with just under three months until the Rio Olympic Games, Hartley’s
A-final qualification at her most recent outing suggests an important upward
turn in form and fortunes.
“I think I was in a bit of shock after the first World Cup to be honest,”
Hartley mentioned on her return to South Africa. “I had neglected my
technique in the run in to the World Cups and I realised in Duisburg that I
was strong and fit enough but my technique was a problem!”
“I took on some advice I was given in Germany and I adapted my technique to
try and get more power going through the paddle blade in the water, which
really helped me at last weekend’s World Cup in the Czech Republic.
“My efforts last week excited me and have given me the boost I needed after
the disappointment of Germany,” Hartley added.
The short, sharp schedule is another aspect that caught Hartley by surprise
in Germany and while the Račice programme was similar in its intensity,
Hartley felt that she was more prepared second time around and adapted
better to the rigours of the truncated race schedule.
“The Europeans really know how to race quick and hard – I had my 200 metres
heat and semi-final within two hours of each other!
“The 200 metre is not my strongest race but despite this I knew what to
expect and then I had a great semi-final in the 500 metre, which really gave
me a lot of confidence.
“It was great that my Czech race plan came together so well,” a satisfied
Hartley has returned to South Africa for a couple of weeks as she deciphers
her next move and before getting final preparations for the Olympic Games in
South America in August underway.
“I am still trying to figure out what is going my best final approach but I
knew that staying in Europe now wasn’t going to give me the best
“I am trying to get myself back into top shape here at home before I head
back overseas in a few weeks’ time and have been having physiotherapy on a
tight shoulder as well as spending time in the gym, further strengthening
the right muscles and making a few small improvements before I make a
decision in the coming weeks,” she said.
Hartley has come a long way over these last two weeks and, with a
devastating opening World Cup well behind her, she has chosen to look at one
race in particular from Račice as motivation going into her final furlong
“The semi-final last weekend is definitely a race that I am going to want to
mimic and I know that if I do, it will stand me in good stead against the
best in the world!
“I am mentally in a much better place now than I was ten days ago and I know
that if I can work on improving my times and speed in the first 250 metres
then I will be in a good position.
“A race is won over the full 500 metres and if I am to put together a full
500 metre performance then it is vital that I get those first 250 metres in
sync with my second 250 metres,” a focused Hartley concluded.
Esti van Tonder and Stuart Bristow were the
only other South Africans racing in Račice with Van Tonder finishing eighth
in the Women's K1 200m B Final and then second in the Women's K1 500m C
Final. Bristow ended seventh in the Men's K1 1000m heat.
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After a disappointing opening
to the European canoe sprint season, South African sprint queen Bridgitte
Hartley made amends when she finished in sixth place in the K1 Women's 500
metre final at the second ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Račice, Czech
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