#TuksRowing: SA's McCann wins World Champs gold

Posted on October 02, 2017


'Showing the world that South African sportswomen can be fast, furious and fabulous' Kirsten McCann wrote on her Twitter page.

She certainly did not just type those words in a moment of boredom. McCann is fulfilling it; she proved it on Friday when she became South Africa's first female rower to win a world title at a senior world championship.

The Tuks/hpc rower won the lightweight women's single sculls race in Sarasota, Florida by out-rowing Marieke Keijser (Netherlands) to win by a boat length, or to be more precise by more than two seconds. Mary Jones (USA) was third, nearly another second adrift.

McCann's performance illustrates that she is not exaggerating when saying South African sportswomen can be fast.

The ever-modest McCann tends to shy away when asked to describe her feelings after a successful race. Friday was no exception.

'I had an ideal race plan. I knew the last 250 m it would be real tight. So I am happy to have been able to sprint so effectively. It's cool,' was her only comment afterwards.

Earlier this year, McCann set another benchmark when she won the lightweight single sculls race in Lucerne. It was the first time a South African female rower won a world cup race.

The Tuks/hpc rower has a perfect record when it comes to racing at world championships and world cups. Since 2015, she has medalled each time she competed. 

Nicole van Wyk, McCann's training partner at Tuks/hpc, gives a good indication as to what McCann is all about when she refers to the word 'furious'.

'Kirsten set herself the goal to become a world champion a long time ago. Everybody who knows her realised she was not just making small talk. Once she has set a goal, she is furiously committed to it and won't relent until achieving what she set out to do. 

'The absolute perfectionist, would be a good way to describe Kirsten. Giving less than a 100% during any training session would never be an option for her. I don't think Kirsten has missed a training session in the last two years.

'So I will be honest. I was not at all surprised seeing Kirsten win the gold medal at the world championships. If ever there was a champion who ticked all the right boxes it is Kirsten. I don't doubt for a moment that the best is yet to come. 

'Kirsten proved by winning a gold medal at the world championships to every female rower in South Africa that nothing is impossible if you are prepared to put your mind to it. 

'For Kirsten it will never just be about winning. She is so passionate about rowing that she cannot help herself to share her experiences with younger rowers. It is as if she does not want them to make the same mistakes she made.

'Just training with her for the last two years taught me so much about what it takes to become a champion.'

As for fabulous, there is certainly truth in the saying that a photo never lies. A quick glance at any photo taken of McCann will prove that she is one of the real beauties of international sport. 

In spite of McCann being the only South African rower to medal in Florida, there is good reason to be excited about what is happening in local rowing. South African rowers managed to win medals at each of the three world championships, which is not a regular occurrence.

Kyle Schoombee (Tuks/hpc) won a silver medal at the Under-23 championships and Van Wyk bronze. At the World Junior Championships, Megan Hancock earned a silver medal and Thabelo Masuthu (Tuks/hpc) bronze.

Rowing is one of the few sports in which South African athletes have been able to win at least one medal at a world championship since 2014. James Thompson and John Smith won gold in 2014 and McCann and Grobler won bronze in 2015. There were no world championships last year due to it being an Olympic year.



- Author Wilhelm de Swardt

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