SA row­ing’s next Olympic stars head to Bul­garia

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCK­ERT DE VIL­LIERS

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.

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