Durban - London Olympic Games bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley has confirmed
her place in the women's kayak field at the next year's Olympic Games in Rio de
Hartley received the news on the weekend from the International Canoe
Federation following the World Championships in Milan that determined the
allocation of places for the male and female kayak and canoe athletes.
"The wait has been so long and I feel really excited knowing that it is
finally official," said Hartley as she packed her bags to join the South
African team at the marathon world Championships in Gyor, Hungary this weekend.
Her excitement was echoed by her federation as Canoeing South Africa's
President Christo Horn was quick to add his congratulations, followed by hordes
of her followers and admirers.
Hartley had something of an agonising wait until the ICF rubber-stamped her
place at the Rio showcase.
At the Milan World Championships she ended up in a loaded women's 500m K1
semi-final where she finished behind two of the three eventual medalists in
Hungary’s Anna Karasz, who won silver, and China’s Yu Zhou who claimed the
bronze so Hartley missed out on the A final, where the top eight were the first
allocated places in the Olympic qualification process.
She went on to convincingly win her B final in a time that would have seen her
finish in the top six of the A final.
Hartley won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Champs in Moscow, mirroring her
London 2012 exploits, and has been a regular feature of the World Cup 500m K1
Once the complex matrix, that includes athletes that qualified in other events,
team boat doubling up and host nation allocations, was completed the ICF
released the full list primary qualifications with Hartley comfortably making
Hartley admitted that the two week waiting period between the World
Championships and the final ICF announcement had been emotional.
"I enjoyed experiencing the joy of the medalists and my friends who have
(automatically) qualified a spot for Rio Olympics 2016, she said. "There
was heart ache too, when split seconds separated the best in the world."
Hartley also showed her excellent form by winning the new Marathon World Cup
Short Course in Brandenberg in Germany a few weeks ago, following her victory
in the SA Marathon Champs and selection for the national team to the longer
form of the sport.