A K2 Gold and a K1 Silver medal is how the world’s most successful paddler ended his South African Marathon Team selection campaign at the South African Flatwater Marathon Canoeing Championships at Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg this past weekend.
Hank McGregor (Jeep Team, Euro Steel) knew there were just two spots on the national team in each age division and with the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships just under a month away, only the best of South Africa’s paddling crop would make it through K1 and K2 selection. The paddling giant, McGregor, made no mistakes.
In Saturday’s K1 title race, reigning World Marathon Champion, McGregor, battled it out against seven-time Dusi Canoe Marathon winner, Andy Birkett and Czech national team paddler, Jakub Adam. The final lap of the sought-after K1 title race ended in a sprint for finish with Birkett pipping McGregor to the line by just two seconds in 02:12:16 with McGregor in 02:12 18, and Adam in 02:12:20.
The K1 result ensures Birkett and McGregor will represent South Africa at the highly anticipated, ICF World Marathon Champs to be held in South Africa at Pietermaritzburg’s Camps Drift from 8 to 10 September.
Said a happy Hank McGregor, “Job done – selection for the South African Marathon Team. It was some awesome racing in PMB. I really enjoyed my race and am stoked to be racing marathons again. I’m really looking forward to World Champs with my fellow team mate, Andy Birkett!”
The men’s K2 race was just as fast and furious after whittling down to just four boats turning for the final 800m dash to the finish of the eight-lap, 30km race with Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocké, Andy Birkett/Jean Van der Westhuyzen, Stuart Maclaren/ Kenneth Rice, and Brandon van der Walt/Clint Cook all firing for the line.
McGregor and Mocké reigned victorious beating Birkett and van der Westhuyzen by just two seconds in 02:03:13. Birkett and van der Westhuyzen (02:03:15) fought to the line to beat third placed Maclaren and Rice by just one second in the most exciting K2 finish of all time.
“This was the first time Jasper and I jumped into a boat together since last year’s world championships in Brandenberg. It was cat and mouse all the way to the finish. We managed to find our rhythm as the day went along, and were trying out new things to better ourselves because in the end, a win by a split second or two is all you have. Everything helps.” said McGregor.
Results – SA Flatwater Marathon Championships
1. Andy Birkett 02:12:16
2. Hank McGregor 02:12:18
3. Jakub Adam 02:12:20
1. Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocké 02:03:13
2. Andrew Birkett/Jean Van der Westhuyzen 02:03:15
3. Stuart Maclaren/Kenneth Rice 02:03:16
1. Bridgitte Hartley 02:02:28
2. Melanie Van Niekerk 02:10:27
3. Nikki Russell 02:11:06
1. Jenna Ward/Nikki Russell 01:58:53
2. Bridgitte Hartley/Kyeta Purchase 01:59:40
3. Hayley Nixon/Michelle Burn 02:01:00
2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championship
The event will be hosted by Canoeing South Africa through Natal Canoe Club (NCC) at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal from 8 to 10 September 2017.
The week-long competition will start with the traditional Masters Cup races for Veteran and Master age group paddlers and para-athletes, before the spotlight shifts to the junior, Under 23, and senior men and women.
ICF Canoe Marathon Masters World Cup
• Sunday 3 September – Masters Briefing, Course Open for Practice
• Monday 4th September 2017 – Masters and Para K1 Events
• Tuesday 5th September 2017 – Masters and Mixed K2 Events
• Wednesday 6th September 2017 – Masters Cup Reserve Day, Meetings and Opening Ceremony
Thursday, 7 September 2017
• Junior Women K1, C1
• U23 Women K1
• Junior Men K1, C1
Friday, 8 September 2017
• Junior Women K2
• U23 Men K1, C1
• Junior Men K2, C2
Saturday, 9 September 2017
• Women C1, K1
• Men K1, C1
Sunday, 10 September 2017
• Women K2
• Men K2, C2
• Closing Ceremony
More information can be found at www.wmc2017.co.za