The seven-strong South African team is ready for the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championships taking place in Minsk, Belarus, from July 28 to 31.
The team will be spearheaded by U23 star Louis Hattingh, who picked up the senior Victor Ludorum award at the SA Canoe Sprint Championships in March.
For several members this will be their first taste of international competition and team manager Craig Mustard believes these early stepping stones are vital for the big leap into senior competition.
“I have a simple approach that one day if you want to be the best in the world you have to start early and be competitive in each age-group that you race,” he said.
Mustard said they had a great squad of paddlers and he believed they could become a strong Olympic team at the 2020 games in Tokyo.
The team has a spread of three U23 paddlers, which includes Hattingh, Kayla de Beer and late inclusion Nick Weeks.
The U18 category is made up of former marathon world champion Jean van der Westhuyzen, Donna Hutton, Jarryd Gibson and Dylan Ceronio.
“I believe this year’s team is the best prepared team I have ever taken to a junior world championships and, with star athletes like Hattingh, Van der Westhuyzen, Hutton and De Beer, we could see them in a number of A finals,” said Mustard.
Team South Africa:
Under 23: Louis Hattingh (1000m K1), Kayla de Beer (500/200m K1), Nick Weeks (200m K1)
Under 18: Jean van der Westhuyzen (1000m K1), Donna Hutton (200/500m K1), Jarryd Gibson (200m K1/K2), Dillion Ceronio (200m K2)