Elite Athlete Development Programme Media Release  No: Prime1620

30 Sept 2016

    Embargo: None

Written by: Nick Tatham

EADP sweep the SA medals at World Marathon Champs

Durban – The recent ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Brandeburg, Germany provided the ideal platform for South African paddlers to thrive on the international stage and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation backed Elite Athlete Development Programme shone as they scooped six of the medals won by Team South Africa.

South African paddlers have traditionally achieved their best international canoeing results at the flat-water marathon showpiece and the 2016 haul was no different with the legendary Hank McGregor leading the way.

McGregor repeated his feat of 2014 where he won both the men’s K1 and K2 titles however the EADP’s own Andy Birkett also made it a double podium in the men’s racing when he finished behind McGregor in the K1 race to take silver and along with K2 partner and fellow EADP star Louis Hattingh wrapped up the bronze medal in the doubles race.

“We have been working really hard with the EADP satellite programme in Pietermaritzburg and our results have shown how important all the elements of our training with the EADP are in preparing us for a world championship,” Birkett mentioned.

“Having consistent help along the way is vital in helping us compete with the best in the world and I appreciate all the assistance that we have received.”

2017 sees the World Marathon Championships return to South African shores after more than a decade and more specifically to Birkett’s hometown of Pietermaritzburg. Challenging for a gold medal on home soil in front of a home crowd is a chance he is not passing up.

“Of course World Marathon Champs here next year is going to be my major focus. I cannot believe that I have got the privilege of racing a world championship in my home town!

“It’s going to be a pretty surreal experience not having to catch shuttles to racing venues and being able to wake up at home in the morning!” Birkett mentioned excitedly.

Another young paddler who came to the fore at the world championships was Kyeta Purchase. The young Durban school girl surprised many in 2015 when she nearly raced on to the Under 18 girls K1 podium however she did that in 2016 taking the bronze medal in the K1 bout.

The biggest surprise came when she and Under 23 K2 partner and fellow EADP athlete Jenna Ward raced to a remarkable second in the senior ladies K2 race on the final Sunday of competition at the World Marathon Championships.

“The K2 was the biggest race for us and we knew that we had a chance but we went into the race happy to settle for a lower position but as the race went on we realised that we were strong enough to compete.

“We were fit enough and powerful enough to take on the top K2 crews and we shocked ourselves when we finished in second place against the best women in the world.

“It was really a justification of all the hard work that we had put in and to come away with a silver medal in the K2 race was incredible for both of us!” a satisfied Purchase commented.

The EADP contingent consisted of Birkett, Louis Hattingh, Jean van der Westhuysen in the men’s category with Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase in the women’s races with the team accounting for over half of the overall medal haul from Team South Africa.

For more information visit www.eadp.co.za 


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Still relatively new to marathon racing, Euro Steel's Andy Birkett showed his talent when he finished second in the K1 race and third with fellow EADP star Louis Hattingh in the K2 race at the recent ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Brandenburg, Germany. Balint Vekkasy/
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In what was one of the performances of the recent ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships, young EADP stars Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase finished second in the senior women's K2 race at the event in Brandeburg, Germany. Balint Vekkasy/
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