The annual South African Schools Sprint Championships were hosted by the Academy for Canoe Development at their Roodeplaat Dam headquarters over the past weekend and with a solid turn out of paddlers from Under 8 to Under 18 the event was a success and the organisers are happy with their trial run for African Champs in 2016.
With 104 schools from all over the country sending paddlers to the Highveld for the event the champs were an important gauge for the venue as they build up to hosting the continental sprint showpiece next year and event organiser Philip van Tonder was happy with the way the whole event panned out.
“It was a great event for us and it was important that we got it right which we did,” Van Tonder mentioned. “We used it as training for the African Sprint Champs next year and although we still have a few more upgrades to make before that event the schools champs went a long way in training people ahead of next year.”
Although the event went smoothly Van Tonder knows that there is still work to do but he is happy that they can get everything right for such a big event like the continental championships.“The African Champs next year is an Olympic qualifier and for us it was important that we could see where we could improve from an organisational perspective.
“We had over 200 paddlers at the Academy and we did not receive complaints from them which is a positive and if they had a good, comfortable experience then we know that we will be able to replicate that next year,” a positive van Tonder added.
The 2015 SA Schools Champs were the first of their kind to host canoe events along with the traditional kayaking events. With the International Canoe Federation trying to increase the participation in canoeing events the organisers decided that they would accept canoeing events.
“I am proud to say that we are the first national schools champs to have C paddling events and we had four C paddlers at the championships so it is important that we try and increase the awareness amongst the youth with there being a big push from the ICF it increase participation.
“We had two boys and two girls that took part in this difficult discipline and the reason we decided it was a good time to introduce it was that the ICF are planning on cutting the number of kayak events at the 2020 Olympics in exchange for canoeing events and it is difficult for paddlers to master the discipline.
“With this said we want to increase awareness amongst the youth and get them paddling c boats,” van Tonder said.
The Schools championships concluded with the winners of the Under 18’s both hailing from Pietermaritzburg with Jarryd Gibson of Maritzburg College and Donna Hutton walking away from the event with the highest points totals at the event.
Hutton, who is a pupil at Epworth, ended the championships on 74 points which included wins in both the 500m and 200m K1 sprint events along with a string of victories in the K2 events. Her closest competitor was Julia van der Westhuysen who was consistent throughout the event and ended on 52 points. Trinity House’s Nicole Smith claimed the final podium spot in the Under 18 girls division.
The boy’s Under 18 contest was a far more closely fought affair with the difference in the top three being seven points but Gibson was too strong for Ryno van der Westhuysen from Paarl Boys High and Andreas Beukes from Paul Roos who ended second and third respectively.
More information can be found at www.canoesa.org.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIPS
Overall Schools Results
1.Maritzburg College 287
3.Paarl Boys High 122.5
5.Forest High School 110
2.Hoerskoel Parys 101
3.Elkanah House 81
4.Danville Girls High 77
5.Parktown High School for Girls 76.5
1.HF Verwoerd 270
2.St Davids Marist Inanda 135
2.Curro Aurora 112
Image: Jennie Dallas/Gameplan Media