Bridgitte Hartley captured the attention of South Africans all over the World, when on Woman’s day this year she romped home in an incredible race to snatch a bronze medal and South Africa’s 5th medal at the London Olympics and became the first woman medallist for South Africa since Hestrie Cloete in 2004. In doing so, she has catapulted herself and more importantly her sport into the limelight! We got a chance to chat to the Olympian and what a pleasure it was!
Jabu (ATJ): Hi Bridgitte! Thanks for the chance to chat. Firstly, congratulations on the fantastic achievement of winning bronze at the Olympics, how do you feel?
ATJ: Since coming home you have been a media sensation, how are you handling the new celebrity status that you have earned?
BH: It’s been a rollercoaster ride since I returned home! It’s been fantastic as well as I am meeting many wonderful people and hopefully inspiring some too.
ATJ: As we would love to see your bronze change to a gold in 2016, what are your plans for competition going forward towards Rio?
BH: We have world cup events and world champ events in the build up going forward so I will be aiming for medals at world champs now.
ATJ: Having competed in the 2008 Olympics, did that help you in your preparation for 2012?
ATJ: And didn’t you do it well! What would you rather win an Olympic bronze medal or World Championship Gold?
BH: Olympic bronze for sure, the Olympics is special it’s every 4 years and it represents brining athletes and cultures from different countries together! So my medal has a history which makes it so much more special!
ATJ: With only yourself and Tiffany Kruger at London 2012, the question must be asked, why are there so few South Africans in the canoeing categories at the Olympics?
BH: It’s a difficult to qualify for as top 8 in singles (K1) qualify and top 6 from world champs then second round qualification is through African champs. There are also not so many SA paddlers doing sprinting, more race the river and surf ski events.
ATJ: The Olympics is known for brining some of the greatest athletes together. Did you get the opportunity to meet anyone interesting at the Olympic Games?
BH: I didn’t meet any other famous Olympic athletes but the SA medallists were all fantastic! (ATJ – More impressive and famous than that Bolt dude)
ATJ: Okay, being the pride of kayaking now, has the new found attention helped you with some sponsorship deals?
BH: Of course, it’s starting to open up many doors.
ATJ: You raced in Beijing in the doubles and London in the singles, but which do you prefer, the singles or doubles?
BH: I like both but K1 is my favourite as I am in control of when I can change my speed.
BH: I am very sporty indeed. I surfed since I was 13 whenever the opportunity arose. I participated in athletics, hockey, gymnastics and life saving while I was growing up. Now it’s paddling seriously and surfing in my free time.
ATJ: And who do you support in other sport?
BH: I love watching rugby; I am a big fan of Pat Lambie and Francois Hougaard
ATJ: Where can our readers find out more about you?
ATJ: Thanks so much and good luck for the future! SA will be proudly backing you!