South Africa sprint canoe team start their journey to Olympic qualification

South African paddlers head to the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Duisburg, Germany, this week hoping to secure a rare qualification place for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Unfortunately for the team, they suffered an early setback when stalwart Chrisjan Coetzee was forced to withdraw from the World Championships showpiece after he broke his ankle, which reduced the team from five members down to four.

The World Championships, at one of the oldest and most famous European sprint canoeing venues, is the first chance for paddlers to secure Olympic qualification places. Over 1 000 competitors from 90 nations will be competing for world titles and the chance to compete at Paris 2024.

Esti Olivier, who has been in strong form in 2023, will lead the South African charge as she eyes Olympic qualification in the women’s 200m K1 event. Olivier’s form on the international stage has been building with a B Final win in the 200m K1 World Cup event in Szeged proving Paris 2024 is a possibility.

There are three male paddlers in the South African team with Nick Weeks, Henry van der Walt and Callam Davis making up the rest of the team.

Weeks will be racing in the K1 500m event and then aiming for Olympic qualification when he joins Van der Walt in the K2 500m, while Van der Walt will also be competing in the K1 200m sprint.

Davis will be racing the longer events with entries into the men’s Olympic distance K1 1000m and the K1 5000m races.

“It’s a small but enthusiastic team that we have in Duisburg for the World Championships and with Olympic qualification on the line there is a lot more at stake,” said Canoeing South African president Kim Pople.

“This group of paddlers have been working incredibly hard in the lead-up to the World Championships and we wish them all the very best.

“As we continue to try and raise the profile of sprint paddling in South Africa, we hope that strong performances here on the international stage will boost our sport for the future.”

Team South Africa
Esti Olivier – K1 200m
Nick Weeks – K1 500m K2 200m
Henry van der Walt – K1 200m K2 200m
Callam Davis – K1 1000m K1 5000m

photo: South African sprint ace Esti Olivier will be out to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games when she races in the women’s K1 200m event at the upcoming ICF Canoe Sprint World Championship in Duisburg, Germany. (supplied)

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