The South African team finished the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships this year in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, securing fourth place overall.
There was much to celebrate as Andy Birkett became the 2022 World Champion, winning an exciting Gold Medal in Senior Men’s K1, while Hamish Lovemore became the U23 Marathon World Champion with teammate Uli Hart finishing third in the men’s U23 K1 race.
Sisters Saskia and Valma Jean Hockly (Danville Park Girls’ High School) won silver in the Junior K2 race.
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On day one of the championships, Saskia won a second consecutive bronze medal in the Junior Women’s K1 race.
In the U23 women’s race, Christie Mackenzie won bronze in the K1 race.
Special mention should also go to Durban North resident Matt Coetzer and Josh Simpkins, who finished fourth in the K2 Junior Boys title standings, with compatriots Josh Smith and Luke Le Roux just behind them in seventh.
Speaking about their achievements in Portugal, Saskia said it was a special moment to win a medal with her sister.
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“It’s really something to be proud of. Not many people can say that they raced with their sister and got on the podium.
The Hockly sisters stuck to their game plan for the event, even when they found themselves under pressure early on.
“We had three main objectives,” said Valma Jean. “To get into the lead pack, so as not to spoil the first carry, and then to see if we can get on the podium. We really had to put our heads down to catch the Hungarians at the start, but once we caught up, they slowed the pace. They didn’t shoot us for three rounds, which was very relaxing,” she added. “We were able to get our heart rate down.”