Words: Gameplan Media
With the para-paddlers taking centre stage on the first day of competition at the 2015 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, Gauteng para-paddling star Graham Paull set a positive tone as he powered his way into the KL1 Men 200m final to take place tomorrow whilst the young Jono Wing and Stu Hogg were unable to qualify passed their semi-final’s on Wednesday.
Photo credit: Balint Vekassy/ Gameplan Media
It was a consistent day from Paull who built up nicely towards his semi-final as he qualified second in his heat earlier in the day which set him up in lane four for his semi-final where he finished second again behind Xiaowei Yu of China to put him through to the final on Thursday.
The final is going to prove a different kettle of fish for the Gauteng paddler who has to contest against the winners of the three heats who have automatically qualified for the final however with the second fastest qualifying time from the semi-finalists he will have some confidence going into the final on Thursday.
It was also a day for the other two para-paddlers in the South African team to savour as the 17 year old Jono Wing took part in his second senior sprint world championships and having finished sixth in his initial heat the Hilton College school boy was unable to better that in his semi-final which meant that his competition came to an end.
It was a ground breaking day for Pietermaritzburg resident Stuart Hogg who took part in his first World Championships following a car crash nearly ten years ago. It was a tough day for Hogg who changed category recently so it was always going to be a challenge for him.
Coach and Manager Craig Mustard was immensely proud of the efforts of the three para-paddlers as he mentioned that Paull is in the hunt for South Africa's first medal at the event.
"Graham (Paull) had the best day out of the three paddlers as he recorded the second fastest time of the day in his category which means that he is medal potential tomorrow as well as potentially qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
"Graham has been reclassified at this competition so now he really is racing on an even playing field!
"I am positive that we will be seeing big things from Graham in the near future!" a positive Mustard mentioned.
Paull was very happy with his efforts on the opening day of the competition however he is remaining focused on the job at hand with his sights set on a podium place.
"I was really chuffed with getting a personal best in the semifinal although I didn't have a great start!
"Having qualified for the final on Thursday means that there is a chance for a medal which would be incredible but we will just have to wait and see how it goes," a relaxed Paull added.
Mustard was also impressed by the efforts of Wing on the opening day of the event and feels that he is close to matching the older, more experienced paddlers in his class.
"Jono Wing was also really impressive, being only 17 he finished 21st overall in the senior age category narrowly missing out on his final.
"Jono managed to achieve a new personal best time of two seconds quicker than last year’s world championships.
"It is definitely a realistic goal that Jono can be in the top nine in the world going into the Rio Paralympics," Mustard mentioned excitedly.
The 2015 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships will be live streamed on Saturday and Sunday so follow the link here to see the live coverage of the event: http://www.milanworldcanoesprint.com/en/results-live-streaming
For more information go to www.canoesa.org.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – DAY ONE ICF CANOE SPRINT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, MILAN, ITALY
K1 200m KL1 Men Heat 3
1.Luis C. Cardosa Da Silva (BRA) 56.066
2.GRAHAM PAULL (RSA) 57.831 +1.765
3.Jakub Tokraz (POL) 58.598 +2.532
4.Robert Suba (HUN) 1:05.316 +9.250
5.Mariusz Jaros (POL) 1:28.568 +32.502
K1 200m KL3 Men Heat 3
1.Leonid Krylov (RUS) 42.274
2.Lulian Serban (ROU) 44.231 +1.957
3.Patrick O’Leary (IRL) 44.696 +2.422
6.JONATHAN WING (RSA) 48.611 +6.337
K1 200m VL3 Men Heat 1
1.Daniel Geri (HUN) 53.987
2.Pier Buccoliero (ITA) 54.617 +0.630
3.Martin Tweedie (GBR) 54.707 +0.720
8. STUART HOGG (RSA) 1:10.840 +16.853
K1 200m KL1 Semi Final 2
1.Xiaowei Yu (CHN) 54.572
2.GRAHAM PAULL (RSA) 54.639 +0.067
3.Oleksander Hrechko (UKR) 56.092 +1.520
K1 200m KL3 Men Semi Final 1
1.Robert Oliver (GBR) 40.530
2.Tom Kierey (GER) 41.140 +0.610
3.Serhii Yemelianov (UKR) 41.552 +1.022
8. JONATHAN WING (RSA) 46.875 +6.345