Last weekend saw the Marathon racing elite gather in South Africa for the biggest event of the calendar. Great Britain sent a big team which included two paddlers from Elmbridge, Oscar McKitrick and Lani Belcher.
Many of you will know Oscar who has been working his way through the groups over the past 4 years. Lani may not be a name you are familiar with, as she has been away on Sprint duty within the National structure for many years.
I was also lucky enough to be out at the event in my role as livestream commentator, so my view of the racing was second to none!!
First up was Oscar in the Junior Men’s K2 with Joe Peterson from Banbury CC. They had earlier in the season come 4th at European champs, which despite a scrappy race, was a phenomenally good result. There seemed no way, with the addition of some more strong crews, that a result like that was even possible again.
However, the two boys were amazing from start to finish. Moving well in the groups and mixing with the top end crews, on an equal footing. The race was not without incident and some bad luck for one of the leading crews meant that Oscar left the final portage in medal position. They were just overhauled on the final stretch though and ended up in 4th place. It feels like one of the worst places to finish, just missing a medal, but when you look at the crews they beat and you realize they were the 4th best in the whole world it puts things in perspective!!
Oscar has trained for 4 years with this event as his specific target, his commitment, effort and single mindedness have been a visible lesson to all at the club and he has represented us in the very best way! Congratulations!!
On the Saturday it was Lani’s turn in K1. Already European silver medalist Lani had high hopes of going one better. Her main rival on paper, Renata Csay, has made this event her own over the last decade though, and has a knack for coming up with the goods on the day! Lani raced beautifully from the start, positioned herself expertly and dominated the portages. In the end she broke Csay with a lap to go and had a dominant final portage and last 1000m, to take the title for the first time. Lani becomes our 4th female World Champion and we are very proud of that!
On Sunday Lani was back on the circuit for a K2 with her training partner from Nottingham, Hayleigh Mason. The race evolved in a very similar way to her K1 but eventually the Hungarian crews proved just too strong and the result was a bronze medal for Lani.
It was a fantastic event and I urge you to watch some of the racing if you think it needs to be you next on the honours board. The whole thing is available to watch on YouTube
We are very proud of the showing from both our athletes and hope that they inspire future generations as well as those who have not yet taken the plunge into full commitment!!