EL teen preparing for world champs

KERRY ELLIOT

Excited East London kayaker Kerry Elliott, 17, is preparing for the U23 Kayak Sprint World Championships in Auronzo di Cadore, Italy, from July 5-9.

The Clarendon High matric pupil qualified in really close races recently at the SA championships at Victoria Lake in Germiston.

She said: “The hardest part was racing at altitude against competitors who train regularly in Johannesburg.

“In the 200m, the top four were within a second. But my K2 partner and I qualified after finishing second in the 1,000m and 500m races and third in the 200m race.”

She said: “Junior Worlds is something that is an honour to qualify for and it’s really amazing to be able to represent SA in a sport that I love.

“It means that all of the hard work that I’ve put in for the past year is paying off.”

She praised her coach, Esti Olivier, for being her inspiration. Olivier is on her way to compete at the World Cup in Szeged, Hungary, where she hopes to get a ranking to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Elliott said of the SA champs: “I’ve met a lot of people through sprints and other kayaking disciplines, so it was really nice seeing everyone and getting to race against old friends. At the moment my sole focus is on Worlds and finishing matric.

“It’s about eight weeks till we race so it’s not a lot of time.

“The really intense training both on the water and in the gym starts now. The tricky part will be balancing my training with my matric June exams, so I will probably be doing more gym than paddling for the next few weeks.

“Worlds is a massive competition and in Europe, kayaking is really competitive.

“These athletes will be winning medals at the Olympics in a couple of years, so I think we’re in for some stiff competition at a different level than we’re used to here.

Her advice to herself and others was: “Set small goals which you can use as stepping stones to achieve your main goals.”

KERRY ELLIOT

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