Following the conclusion of the recent South African Canoe Marathon
Championships, Canoeing South Africa has named a strong side for the ICF Canoe
Marathon World Championships in Shaoxing, China from October 17-20.
Topped by world champions Andy Birkett and Hank McGregor, the team of seniors,
under 23 and junior athletes for the trip to the Far East will include two
black paddlers in Alex Masina, who won a bronze in the junior boys K1 race in
2017 at the World Champs in Pietermaritzburg, and Under 18 girl Nosipho
Mthembu, who will paddle in the U18 Girls K2 race with Amy Peckett.
Marathon paddling is arguably the strongest canoeing discipline for South Africa
on a global scale and they currently house the K1 and K2 men's senior World
Champion in Birkett, however coming out of retirement in a K1 at the national
trial was 13-time World Champion McGregor.
The veteran has won eight K1 gold medals, four K2 golds and one K2 silver
medal, didn't compete in the K1 race at the 2018 World Championships but won
the K2 showdown with Birkett.
Birkett got the better of the legend at the Cradle Moon Lake during the South
African championships, however McGregor is as experienced as they come and will
put in a strong fight for another gold medal.
With only two boats in each category qualifying the racing at the national
championships is fierce and the K2 racing was no exception.
Birkett and McGregor won the race by a whisker over the young, exciting Under-23 duo of Alex Masina and Louis Hattingh.
In the senior women's class it was Bridgitte Hartley who won the national
championships and will represent South Africa once again at the world champs.
She will be joined by a former Under-23 medallist Jenna Ward who has shown that
she is getting back to her best.
In the K2 racing at the showpiece in the East, Hartley and Christie Mackenzie
will be the one senior women's crew representing South Africa while former
world championship silver medallists Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase will be the
other South African boat in the race.
The Under-23 age K1 paddlers selected to represent South Africa are, in the
men's, Hamish Lovemore and 2017 junior bronze medallist Masina. In the women's
category it is another former bronze medallist Christie Mackenzie and she will
be joined by a returning to form Kyeta Purchase.
There is no K2 racing in the Under 23 category so paddlers are forced to race
in the senior K2 age group.
The juniors is another exciting age category as they give a glimpse into the
future of marathon racing in the country.
From a K1 perspective Hamish Mackenzie and Uli Hart will represent the SA U18
boys team while Amy Peckett and Georgina Howard will do battle for the U18
In the K2 category former world championship silver medallists Hamish Mackenzie
and David Evans will be at their third world championships while Gustav Smook
Junior and Bartho Visser will take part in their first World Championships.
The Under 18 girls K2 team sees experienced Amy Peckett teaming up with Nosipho
Mthembu while Georgina Howard and Melanie Croeser will be the other South
African team in the junior girls category at the World Championships.
African Team for 2019 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships (Shaoxing, China):
Hamish Mackenzie, Ulvard Hart
Amy Peckett, Georgina Howard
Hamish Lovemore, Alex Masina
Kyeta Purchase, Christie Mackenzie
Andy Birkett, Hank McGregor
Bridgitte Hartley, Jenna Ward
David Evans, Hamish Mackenzie, Gustav Smook Jnr, Bartho Visser
Amy Peckett, Nosipho Mthembu, Georgina Howard, Melonie Croeser
Andy Birkett, Hank McGregor, Louis Hatting, Alex Masina
Christie Mackenzie, Bridgitte Hartley, Jenna Ward, Kyeta Purchase