Picture: REUTERS/VINCENT WEST
Picture: REUTERS/VINCENT WEST

Durban — As the world continues to reopen after the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, SA’s paddlers across a number of disciplines are preparing for a variety of world championship events over the next month and a half, for many marking a return to international competition after 18 months.

The lack of travel for national paddlers has been devastating for many who were unable to represent the country at the recent ICF Ocean Racing World Championships. But since the increase in the age categories eligible for the vaccine many more athletes are now able to travel more freely.

After many months on the sidelines September’s international calendar is  jam-packed  with the ICF Junior and Under-23 Sprint World Championships in Portugal, the Olympic Hopes Regatta in the Czech Republic, the Stand-Up Paddleboarding World Championships in Hungary, the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Copenhagen and the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Romania.

For the president of Canoeing SA Kim Pople, being able to see so many of our paddlers back on the international stage has taken a huge effort for a lot of people.

“We have seen so much work go on behind the scenes by the tour managers to make these tours a possibility,” Pople said. “We are so excited to know that we have got five tours coming up in the next five weeks and given that SA is banned from a lot of countries, it’s unbelievable the work that has gone in to making these tours a reality.

“We need to thank everyone that has put in so much more to get these tours off the ground and also the paddlers who have remained focused on their preparation during what is a hugely uncertain time.

“I cannot wait to see a huge contingent of SA paddlers travelling around the world and competing on the international stage again,” Pople added.

The Junior and Under-23 World Championships gives important international competition experience to the up and coming sprinters who are committed to building a career that they hope will include competing at the Olympic Games.

The Senior Sprint World Championships will give the SA flatwater paddlers a chance to prove themselves, particularly those that were unable to secure their Olympic qualification to Tokyo earlier in the year.

This year will be the first time the stand-up paddle boarding athletes taking part in the SUP World Championships will compete as an affiliate discipline of Canoeing SA.

Having missed out on a World Championship for marathon paddling in 2020, this year’s return will be an important one for the SA paddlers keen to build on the results of the last marathon showcase event in 2019 in China.

Upcoming international events:

ICF Junior & Under 23 Sprint World Championships: Sept. 3-6 (Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal)

ICF Stand-up Paddleboard World Championships: Sept. 9-12 (Balatonfured, Hungary)

Olympic Hopes Regatta: Sept. 10-12 (Racice, Czech Republic)

ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships: Sept. 16-19 (Copenhagen, Denmark)

ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships: Sept. 30-Oct 3 (Bascov, Romania)

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