South African Masters Canoeists Ready to Make Waves at World Championships
Photo Cred: Canoeing South Africa

A team of South African master canoeists aims to kickstart a medal-winning spree at the Canoe Marathon World Championships in Denmark, showcasing their determination and camaraderie on the water.


Vejen, Denmark (27 August 2023) – In a heartwarming display of skill, determination, and camaraderie, a team of South Africa’s master canoeists is gearing up to set the stage for a thrilling medal quest at the upcoming Canoe Marathon World Championships in Vejen, Denmark.

The ICF Masters Canoe Canoe Marathon World Championships, taking place on Monday and Tuesday, are the delightful prelude to the high-stakes elite World Championships scheduled to unfold at the same venue later in the week, beginning on Thursday.

This South African contingent, a tight-knit group of master paddlers ranging from ages 43 to 77, aims to seize their moment in the sun during the early days of the week, collecting medals that will lay the foundation for what promises to be an exhilarating medal spree. And if that’s not heartwarming enough, they’ll remain at the racecourse to cheer on their fellow countrymen and women competing in the senior, U18, and U23 categories from Thursday to Sunday, contributing even more glory to their nation’s tally.

A septet of seasoned Masters athletes is scheduled to participate in nine pulsating races, encompassing three K2 (doubles) events and six K1 (singles) showdowns. Their aspirations are sky-high, although it’s worth noting that they’re carrying the torch lit by their impressive compatriots from 2022, a team that walked away with a jaw-dropping 15 medals, five of which gleamed with the brilliance of gold, from the scenic landscapes of Ponte de Lima, Portugal.

The curtain will rise on this gripping spectacle with none other than Colin Simpkins, Secretary General of Canoeing South Africa, who’s back for another round of waterborne excitement. Simpkins, the lone master paddler to clinch a medal in the previous year’s edition, will team up with Chris Visser for the exhilarating K1 race in the 65-69 age group, setting the stage for a captivating beginning to the regatta.

As the river of competition winds on, the spotlight will shine on the oldest member of the team, the indomitable 77-year-old Claude Graham, as he navigates the singles event for the 75+ age category. With a burning desire to surpass his fourth-place finish from 2022, Graham’s determination to paddle his way into the record books is a testament to the age-defying spirit of these seasoned athletes.

Not to be outdone, the first day of action will also witness the prowess of Ernest van Riet (45-49), Waldo van der Linde (40-44), and Pieter Engelbrecht (50-54), as they grace the waterways with their finely honed skills.

But the thrill doesn’t stop there. The second day promises another wave of excitement, with Simpkins and Visser joining forces again for the 65-69 K2 event. Meanwhile, Van Riet and Van der Linde will be a dynamic duo in the 40-44 K2, while Matthew Ballenden teams up with Engelbrecht for the 50-54 doubles event, showcasing their unbreakable bond as they navigate the challenges together.

And let’s not forget the elite team poised to make their splash on Thursday. With names like Andy Birkett, the reigning men’s world K1 champion, and other 2022 medalists including Hamish Lovemore, Ulvard Hart, Christie Mackenzie, and Saskia Hockly, the Canoe Marathon World Championships promises to be a thrilling showcase of human perseverance and the pure love for the sport.

Stay tuned as the waters of Vejen, Denmark, become a canvas for these remarkable athletes to paint their stories of triumph, unity, and the unyielding pursuit of excellence.

Sources: Canoeing South Africa
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