South African canoe sprint ace Chrisjan Coetzee gave his hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games a shot in the arm winning bronze in the men’s K1 500m final at the World Cup in Poznan, Poland over the weekend.
Coetzee became the first South Africa man — since Shaun Rubenstein in 2007 — to win an ICF Canoe World Cup medal in over a decade.</p>
Although the 500m K1 is no longer an Olympic discipline, Coetzee will take great confidence from the victory over a quality field of sprinters.</p>
Coetzee went into into the event with the hopes of reaching the A-final with his podium finish exceeding his expectations.</p>
“I am so happy to win my first international medal in my 10-year career. I feel honoured to have shared the podium with two of paddling’s greats Fernando Pimenta and Tom Liebscher. It was great racing and I enjoyed it. It’s great motivation for me going forward and I want to keep improving and training hard.”Chrisjan Coetzee
Coetzee missed out on an A-final in the Olympic distance 200m K1 event finishing fifth in the B-final.
Rubenstein said he hoped the victory would give Coetzee the confidence boost he needed to make a mark in the K1 200m event.
“He is right in the qualification mix if you look at the times that he raced in the 200m K1. Sometimes all it takes is one moment in your career to flick that switch, and this may have been it for Chrisjan.”Shaun Rubenstein
Kayla de Beer and Esti van Tonder also featured in Poland where they featured in the women’s K1 200m heats. Van Tonder finished second in the C-final of the K1 500m.
The trio will be racing again this weekend at the second leg of the World Cup series in Duisburg, Germany.<
They will be joined by London Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, Louis Hattingh, Donna Hutton, David Rodrigues, Nick Weeks and Dawie Gerber.
Hattingh will take part in the 1000m and 500m K1 events, Hutton will take on the K1 500m event and then join forces with Hartley in the 200m and 500m K2 events.
Coetzee and Van Tonder will add the K2 500m mixed event to their calendar and the men’s K4 of Weeks, Rodrigues, Gerber and Coetzee will race the 500m event.
The SA contingent at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Duisburg, Germany:
Esti van Tonder – K1 200m/500m K2 500 Mixed
Chrisjan Coetzee – K1 200m/500m K2 500 Mixed
Kayla de Beer – K1 200m
Louis Hattingh – K1 1000m/500m
Donna Hutton – K1 500m K2 200m/500m
Bridgitte Hartley – K2 200m/500m
David Rodrigues/Nick Weeks/Dawie Gerber/Chrisjan Coetzee – K4 500m