The 2017 Canoeing Masters World Cup kicked off in a sweltering Pietermaritzburg on Monday as the host nation South Africa laid claim to the majority of the K1 medals that were on offer on the opening day of competition.
The busy schedule meant that organisers had to run a full programme of the K1 men’s and women’s veteran and masters events into one day of competition.
However, it was a positive day for the local paddlers, who took home nine of the 15 gold medals that were on offer on day one.
It was a brilliant start for South Africa when Allan Hold became the first gold medal winner in the 65-69 age category where he headed up an all-South Africa podium with Rob Maclean and Geoff Thompson finishing second and third respectively.
Australia opened their World Cup account in the men’s C1 event where Rain Metsoja proved to be far too strong for the rest of the field when he powered away to an impressive victory.
The South African juggernaut regained momentum when Vincent Butterick took home the gold in the men’s 70+ category ahead of Jannie Malherbe and Bevin Worlock whilst the women age categories South Africa dominated again winning four of the six golds.
South Africa’s golden girls were Marion Young in the 40-44 age category, Anna Clifford Arwidi (45-49), Robyn Henderson (50-54) and Beth Burton (60-64). Team Australia grabbed the other two ladies golds through Laura Lee (35-39) and Margi Bohm (55-59).
One of the most exciting races pitted local star and former K2 World Marathon champion Ant Stott against Wayne Jacobs in the men’s 35-39 Sub-veteran’s category.
The pair went head-to-head right until the final portage where Stott capitalised on a slight mishap from Jacobs to surge clear and take the title.
“I knew I was going to need something special to win today,” Stott mentioned. “When I saw the gap right at the end, I knew that my little legs needed to work.
“It was a great race and congrats to Wayne on his second, I look forward to racing in the K2 with him.”
In another tough tussle, a finish line sprint between Australian star Michael Leverett and South African paddling legend Graeme Solomon saw the former just sneak a memorable victory.
“We had a great fight out on the water and I am happy that I was able to get the win in the end,” the Australian mentioned.
It was a strong showing from the team from Down Under, who walked away with five gold medals on the day with Francisco Vazquez Radondo from Spain picking up the final gold in the men’s 55-59 age category.
In what was arguably one of the performances of the day, 66-year-old Lee McGregor raced in the 50-54 year-old master’s category and finished second behind Australian Brett Greenwood.