Van der Walt and Kime fly SA flag high
Grant van der Walt grabbed his third world title in six years as he clinched a sensational victory in the Under-23 men’s K1 race at the World Marathon Championships on the Tiber River in Rome on Friday.
Van der Walt’s sheer strength saw him prevail in a thrilling end sprint to hold off the challenge of Portugese Olympic sprinter Fernando Pimenta and the rest of an eleven man bunch, including his younger brother Brandon.
The siblings entered the sixth and final portage together but splintered over the course of the fast paced final lap.
The victory is Van der Walt’s second U-23 title after his victory in 2009 and his U-18 gold medal in 2007.
“That win was all about heart,” said his father Bill van der Walt.
“The boys had to dig really deep and I’m so proud of what they both achieved.” “In many ways it was a lot harder to win this year than in 2009.
“It’s taken a lot of work and dedication to get them to where they are today.” Grant will be partnering defending K1 world champ Hank McGregor in Sunday’s K2 senior men’s gold medal decider and will take massive confidence into the clash which brings the curtain down on the global spectacle.
The medal was the second of the day after Dusi champion Robyn Kime rocked the canoeing world by winning a silver medal on debut at the World Marathon Championships.
Starting unfancied and unseeded in the outside lane Kime systematically shook off her more fancied opponents until she was left in a two boat end sprint with defending champion Eva Barrios of Spain.
The silver medal is the highlight in the career of the Epworth protégé, who two weeks before won the South African K2 River Marathon title at the Breede River Canoe Marathon with Eloise van Geysen.