SA rowing’s next Olympic stars head to Bulgaria
SOUTH Africa’s next generation of rowers will be looking to make their mark at the World Under-23 Championships in Bulgaria starting today.
Spearheaded by 2017 women’s lightweight single sculls silver medallist Nicole van Wyk, an 11-member squad has their sights set on SA’s best ever medal haul at the championships – achieved in 2010 when Olympic medallists John Smith and Lawrence Brittain won the men’s pair gold, with Kirsten McCann finishing third in the women’s lightweight single sculls.
“I never thought I was really that good because I never really got good results before last year,” Van Wyk said ahead of the team’s departure. “I went into last year’s champs not thinking I was able to fight with the top dogs so it’s been really cool.”
Van Wyk, who looks set to partner with McCann in the future in the lightweight double sculls, has made her intentions clear.
“I’m really motivated because everyone has kind of said ‘you should go for the gold’ but at the end of the day it is what I want, I don’t want the silver, I don’t want to be second,” Van Wyk said.
Fancying his chances after finishing fourth in the men’s double sculls boat with Bradley Betts in 2016, Kyle Schoonbee is giving himself a chance of reaching the podium in the single boat.
““Fourth place is probably the worst place to finish, so this year I’ve put in the big work and that result has been the big motivation for this year’s championships,” Schoonbee said.
South Africa has a wealth of depth in men’s heavyweight rowing with the Under-23s also taking a men’s four consisting Timothy Miller, Charles Brittain, Garth Holden and Mzandile Sotsaka and a pair crew of Sandro Torrente and Luc Daffarn.
Christopher Mittendorf will be in the lightweight double sculls to round off the South African squad.