Hartley and Burn make selection event a winner-take-all shootout

Former Olympic medalist Bridgitte Hartley and former World Surfski Champion Michelle Burn on Saturday overturned a narrow loss the day before to take the Paris Olympic canoeing trial to a winner-take-all shootout.

The narrow margin of Esti Olivier and Tiffany Koch’s win on Friday in the 500m K2 final at the South African Canoe Championships at Victoria Lake in Germiston, meant the selectors implemented the option of a three-race shootout to select the women’s crew to go to the Paris Olympics. Friday’s 500m K2 final was the first leg with the two extra races scheduled for Saturday and, if needed, Sunday.

Saturday’s second trial saw the vast experience of Hartley and Burn overturn Friday’s result. Their solid victory over Olivier and Koch in the two-boat race, takes the selection races into a dramatic winner-take-all shootout on Sunday morning.

The combination of 40-year-old Hartley, the 2012 London Olympic 500m K1 silver medalist who came out of retirement to chase a place in her fourth Olympics, and 38-year-old Burn – the 2021 World Surfski Champion – called on all their vast experience to set up the dramatic Sunday finale.

“I think the nice thing is that we keep perfecting our race a bit more every time we line up on a start, which is super exciting,” said Hartley.

“This has become a bit of a nice new challenge for me to try and compete in another Olympic Games,” added the participant in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

“I’ve always wanted to compete in a K2 since before Tokyo, so yeah, it really means a lot and I’m super excited to race again tomorrow.

“It has already been a great weekend to be racing with Michelle, and we are really looking forward to tomorrow and hoping that we have a good outcome,” added Hartley.

The men’s 500m K2 final and first trial on Friday was won convincingly by Hamish Lovemore and Andy Birkett on Friday. They finished 1,6 seconds ahead of Shaun Rubenstein and Mike Arthur, with Chrisjan Coetzee and Nicholas Weeks third.

The relatively big winning margin meant Lovemore and two-time Marathon World Champion Birkett automatically booked their place on the flight to Paris without the need for a selection shootout.

“We are really stoked,” said Birkett after arriving back in East London on Saturday afternoon. “I think it only really sunk in this morning.

“I am really grateful to have the opportunity to go to Paris. I am stoked at the way we feel in a boat together and really looking forward to the opportunity to put the work in and to be going to the Olympics.

“Hamish and I are both really keen to give it a good shot and going forward are really excited to put whatever work we need to get into the best shape we can.”

The two-boat women’s winner-take-all shootout will take place at 8am on Sunday morning.

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