This is always one of the most festive and exciting tours with the South African team every year. The marathon culture in our country is amazing and the athletes keep producing some magnificent results and 2014 was no different. We jetted off across the world to the USA, Oklahoma City. I never travelled with the team as I had some plans to spend one more week over there visiting my brother on the British Virgin Island of Tortola in the Caribbean.
The team was lead by our amazing manager Steve Jourdan with help from the Marathon chairman Brett Austin-Smith. They looked after the athletes in every single way possible spending most days at the course.
The Oklahoma River, which hosted the competition, was really wide, giving us a great piece of water to train and race on. The accommodation was one of the biggest ever as we all got these self-catering apartments that were all fully furnished, even with a washing machine. We were very comfortable and didn’t seem too affected by jetlag.
The entire team this year was extremely small, compared to other years as very few masters took part. The teams were really close and everyone got along extremely well and made new friends too. We won so many medals again and our very own Steve Jourdan managed to get his first ballie medal too, after 12 years of doing an amazing job as team manager!
The team got 6 medals on Day 1 for K1 masters and a further 6 medals in the K2 events.
The next highlight of the trip were the junior boys whom I have done a few training sessions with throughout the year and have seen them improving so much, Louis Hattingh fought a brave fight to win a bronze in the K1 and then used his fresh power house, Jean van der Westhuizen to claim the Gold medal the next day. Jenna Ward flew the flag for the woman with her diamond hunt as it seemed the other girls were happy to work harder and leave her to sit diamond. She ended with a 4-boat end sprint to clinch third. Hank continued his dominance in the mens event to win another K1 title and decided that wasn’t enough and added the K2 title to his name with Jasper Mocke. The men’s K2 event was extremely tough and nerve racking me watching my boyfriend Andy Bicrkett and his partner Greg Louw have a phenomenal race which consisted of 5 boats for almost the entire way, the boats were forever changing the pulls and fighting to try not sit on 2nd wave. It was only on the last lap that Andy and Greg Fell off, however it was really amazing to watch them standing their ground against the Spanish and Hungarian boats.
I enjoyed watching as many races as I could watch at the event and when the day was hot and tiring we finished watching some of the races on the live streaming.
My race was not quite as I hoped, however I was not sure what to expect after being very sick with Flu when I returned from Russia, sprint world championships. I guess my body was very tired and needed some time off which then left me with too little time to prepare and be ready for the marathon as well. I still feel like I have never really conquered a marathon race, my best result being 5th in K1 in 2010 and 4th in the K2 with Michele Eray also in Spain in 2010. I will leave it as a small goal of mine to get a medal one day in marathon world champs, so I will be hoping for that in 2017 when we host the marathon world championships in South Africa, Pietermartizburg. read more about the results on www.canoesa.org.za