A team of four South African sprint canoeists will do battle with the world's best at the upcoming ICF Canoe Sprint World Cups in Hungary and Germany as they gain racing experience before the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships later in the year.
Louis Hattingh, Chrisjan Coetzee, Kayla de Beer and Esti van Tonder are the four paddlers who'll be lining up this weekend in Szeged in Hungary across a number of different races.
Van Tonder will be busiest of all of the South African paddlers in Hungary this weekend with three races on her roster. She will be taking on the Olympic sprint disciplines, the 200 metre K1 and the 500m K1 as well as the 200m K2 with De Beer.
Van Tonder's first assignment will be an early morning K1 500m heat on Friday. She will then take on the 200m K2 race on Saturday morning followed by her 200m K1 heat that afternoon.
The schedule for her K2 partner De Beer only kicks into gear on Saturday with her 200m K2 heat in the morning and then the K1 200m heat just before 4.30pm on the same day.
It will be exciting to follow the progress of the women's K2 at the event with the top three from the heat advancing straight to the final. Hattingh, who suffered a severe injury to his hand over a year ago, has made a remarkable recovery to join the team in Europe and will be looking to get back to some impressive form over the next two weeks.
His World Cup consists of the men's 1000m K1 race as well as in the 500m K1 event. 10:42 on Friday morning is when Hattingh marks a miraculous return to international racing in his 1000m heat. He then has to wait until just after 6.30pm on Friday to take on his 500m heat.
Coetzee's charge gets underway on Friday when he takes on the 500m K1 heats at 7pm. He will have some time to recover as his 200m heat is only the following day at 4.05pm.
The team then travel to the regatta course in Duisberg, Germany for the next World Cup sprint assignment the following weekend.
Photo: Coetzee in action, by Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media