Race Boat
Photo Credit: Canoeing SA / Gameplan Media

The SA Canoe Championships saw a splash of a battle for Olympic spots as river racers competed fiercely for the opportunity of a lifetime. After successfully rocking the race boat, meet the winners who will take us to Paris:


Victoria Lake, South Africa (25 March 2024) — Over the weekend, river racers united at Victoria Lake for the South African Canoe Championships—a chance to book spots for the 2024 Paris Olympics and rock the current race boat of athletes already qualified. 

The heat was on before any of the regatta’s events began, as the tension of opportunity loomed around all those participating (and even those rooting on the sidelines).

Four athletes would emerge from the men’s and women’s races as the canoe squad set to represent South Africa at the upcoming Olympic Games. But the competition came with its own version a twist that rocked the boat, as crews from outside the traditional sprinting community opted to paddle for the qualifiers.

The first to secure their spots to Paris were Hamish Lovemore and two-time world champion Andy Birkett who dominated the men’s 500km k2 crew event. With a speedy finish just over one minute and thirty seconds in the final, the two surpassed other hopefuls and claimed their Olympic placements!

Following the Lovemore-Birkett excitement in the earlier portion of the champs, the pressure was on for Esti Olivier and Tiffany Koch who successfully navigated a series of trials. Together, they survived a serious shootout to secure their places; beating 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley and Michelle Burn (the former World surfski champ) in the process.

The four will now proudly take on Paris!

Sources: Gameplan Media; Canoeing South Africa 
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Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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