Sprint canoeists Bridgitte Hartley and Tiffany Kruger are aiming to be the first South African women to finish in the medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The racing will take place at the regatta course at Eton Dorney in Berkshire.
Hartley knows she has the ability to challenge for a medal, given her form of the past 12 months that has seen her win World Cup medals in her key 500m K1 discipline, and post a world record over the distance at last year’s World Championships.
The 29-year-old Richards Bay-based speedster knows she has to replicate that form in three big races to put herself in a position to finish on the podium and scoop a medal. She is determined to minimise the distractions and race the Olympics like any other regatta.
“I am treating it as just another competition,” said Hartley from her training base in Linz in Austria on Thursday where she has been working with her coach Nandor Almasi alongside Austrian and Slovakian team members.
“I don’t want the hype and the media attention to interfere with my preparations, so I will not be going to the opening ceremony this time – I will watch it on TV – and will arrive in England just before the start of the sprint programme.”
“Then I will take each day of racing just as I would for a World Cup or World Championships,” she added. “I will paddle the course, and then on each day I have a specific warm-up plan and race plan.
“I know what it is like to race that perfect race and in an environment like the Olympics it is simply a case of putting together all the pieces to race that perfect race again.”
Flatwater Sprints Programme for Female Kayakers
7 August: 500m heats and semi-finals
9 August: 500m finals
10 August: 200m heats and semi-finals
11 August: 200m finals