Hartley talks of quitting 'lonely' K1 and turning to K2 for Tokyo

A missing bum pad may be the catalyst to keep South Africa’s Bridgitte Hartley in canoe sprint for another four years – as long as she can avoid the loneliness of living overseas.

33-year-old Hartley, who won silver in London in 2012, finished eighth in the K1 500 B final on Thursday, and admitted after the race she had been thrown by some missing equipment before the race.

“I’m very disappointed,” she said.

“I got to the race course this morning and my bum pad was gone, completely gone and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was running around trying to find some foam.

“It just threw me out. I was confident that I was going to have a last good race, but I felt so uncomfortable out there that I just couldn’t put in the right strokes to make it count.”

Hartley took the decision after her surprise silver medal in London to base herself in her native South Africa in the lead-up to Rio. She said she struggled to deal with the emotional strain of living in a foreign country.

But that decision also presented problems.

“It’s been a bumpy road, it’s not so easy trying to train so often by yourself when you don’t have so many training partners at this level,” she said.

“So I found it challenging, but I was confident I would get it right on the day, when it counted the most, but it just didn’t come together.

“For me, starting to travel even more and more, I just got lonely. It was a call that I made two years ago not to travel so much and try and stay at home, it might have been the wrong one, but at the same time if you are lonely every night in a foreign country, you can’t train either.

“It’s a tough call, maybe it was the wrong one I guess, you never know.”

After three Olympics Hartley is proud of the impact she has made in South Africa and Africa generally, a country where sprint canoe is starting to flourish, and where many people look up to the heroics of Hartley for inspiration.

“I think I don’t realise it,” she said.

“A lot of people have told me, especially a lot of the juniors coming through, they tell me ‘oh my gosh Bridgitte, you’ve inspired all of us.

“We (South Africa) just got a bronze medal in the K1 1000 junior men, and he sent me a message saying four years ago he had me on his wall. So it means a lot to me to know that maybe I have made an impact.”

And for the future? Hartley said the lonely days of K1 are definitely over, but she’s open to the opportunity to team up with a K2 paddler. She said there are several promising jumior paddlers coming through the system in South Africa.

And it may just be the missing bum pad that inspires her to go out and complete some unfinished business.

“The crazy thing is, I think if I was successful here I might have said okay, sprinting is over,” she said.

“Now I kind of feel like I haven’t achieved everything. It’s a lonely road in the K1, so if I can jump in a boat with a junior girl in South Africa and we combine, maybe we can try for an A final in the next year or two, it could be a potential, but I think the K1 is too lonely now.

“I can’t push myself like I should unless I live overseas again, and I don’t want to do that.”

But if she does decide to walk away, Bridgitte Hartley can be content in the knowledge she has achieved what very few others will ever do.

“I’m so grateful, I’ve been to three Olympics and some people are still trying to make their first,” she said.

“I have a medal, and they can’t take that away from me.”

Blog archive





Subscribe to: Blog posts RSS
Press Releases
#ICFsprint #Olympics #canoesprint