The 13th – 16th August saw the annual Canoeing World Championships being hosted by the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia on Canada’s eastern seaboard, with 75 countries attending what is arguably the most prestigious canoeing event outside of the Olympic Games. The South African contingent of 9 athletes that arrived in Halifax ten days prior to the start of racing was spearheaded by TuksCanoe and University of Pretoria student Bridgitte Hartley who had been ranked as the best performing athlete in the recent International Canoe Federation’s World Cups series, where she single handedly won no less than six medals over the course of three regattas. Joining her was TuksCanoe’s Shaun Rubenstein, who despite a season that was hampered by a bilharzia infection, had found good form in his new doubles combination with former TuksCanoe athlete Michael Arthur. Together, Hartley and Rubenstein represented the South African team’s best hopes of success against a highly competitive field of over 1000 athletes from across the world.
In the four days of racing that took place on the idyllic Lake Banook, both Bridgitte and Shaun matched the expectations that had been placed upon them by each securing an A final, that in itself represents one of the most sought after achievements in World Championship sprint canoeing! Yet, it was Bridgitte who stepped forward in her 1000m K1 to grasp a bronze medal in another one of her now trademark flying finishes to cross the line ahead of Denmark and closely behind the traditional canoeing powerhouses of Hungary and Germany.
The World Championship medal (a first for South African canoeing) wrapped up a dream season for Bridgitte who, despite facing significant obstacles in her choice to be based with her coach in Hungary, has come to represent one of SASCOC’s best hopes for an Olympic medal in 2012. In these endeavors, TuksSport and the hpc can be justifiably proud of not only producing but of also having supported Bridgitte in her incredible journey of becoming one of the world’s best female canoeists. For her part, Bridgitte will continue holding Tuks, hpc and South Africa in anticipation, as she shows no signs of slowing down or being satisfied, until she is undeniably the best canoeist in the world!