Paddlers prepare for SA kayak sprint champs

PORT Elizabeth paddlers are gearing up for the South African Kayak Sprint Championships to be held in Pietermaritzburg starting on Friday.

The gruelling three-day event will also serve as a trial to select a senior and under-23 national teams that will compete at the world championships in Russia and at the world cup in Hungary later this year.

Paddler Stuart Laing said the Eastern Cape team consists of six local paddlers which include 2011 All Africa Games gold medalist, Greg Louw who will be competing in the senior category, Calvin Zeelie, Luke McNish, Luke McFarlen, Jordaan Zeelie and himself who will all be challenging for the SA U23 championships title.

“The paddlers will compete in both the double challenge (K2) and individual event (K1).

“It is not the first time Bluewater Canoe Club from Port Elizabeth was represented in this prestigious event but it will be the first time for some of our team members to take part in the event.” The Bluewater Canoe Club uses the North End Lake as their training base.

Laing said the SA championships could be very difficult sometimes because the paddlers were racing the same distance all the time and got very tired.

“It is a very competitive event which is attended by the top paddlers from across the country.

“Our disadvantage would be that of not having a sprint course in Port Elizabeth.

“We will be in a sprint race in Pietermaritzburg and we are not used to that venue because we only go there once a year.”

The team will compete in the 200m and 500m distances.

The events ends on Sunday.

- Mthetho Ndoni