5 Mins with Carol Joyce

Carol Joyce has always been a
water baby and very competitive, too. So, its no wonder she’s found success in
a sport like sprint canoeing. Carol is part of the SA Women’s K4 team, also
including Michele Eray, Nikki Mocke and Jen Hodson, that has qualified for the
2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The team is currently on a
four-week
training
camp in Port Edward on the South Coast, until the 8th of Dec. Carol
spoke to gsport about the strength of
sprint canoeing here and internationally, how the Women’s K4 team secured
qualification for the Olympics, and the team’s plans leading up to the
Olympics.

Carol, how did the
Women’s K4 team qualify for the Olympics?

In August this year, the SA K4 raced at the Sprint World
Championships in Duisburg, Germany; this was the Olympic
qualification event and the one chance for the SA women’s K4 to qualify for the
2008 Beijing Olympics.

We had to finish in the top 6 or if Australia/ New Zealand came in the top 6 we
could still qualify by coming in the top 14 according to the continental
qualification criteria. It was very close racing, Australia came 6th in
the A final and we finished 3rd in the B final, placing us 12th
overall and therefore securing a berth for the Games. 

How would you rate the
South African Women’s K4 team’s medal chances at next year’s Olympics?

It’s really hard to say! We are training incredibly hard and
improving all the time, but then so are our competition!!! We will certainly do
everything we can in order to get on the podium but I think a top 6 finish at
the Games would be a fantastic achievement for our crew! 

What is the standard of
sprint canoeing among women internationally?

As it is an Olympic discipline, the standard of sprint
canoeing among women internationally is at the highest level! Perhaps it does
not match the men in numbers but certainly in quality.

To what do you attribute
the growth and success of sprint canoeing in South Africa?

The Olympic spirit is growing in South Africa; we’ve had some great
results from various sporting disciplines at the last few Games, including
canoeing!

Our national sprint team has had some awesome results at the last few
World Championships and this is encouraging for others who are realising that
the Olympic dream is attainable and are focused and determined to make it a
reality! We have a really dedicated training squad and there is a good support
structure which has enabled the sport to grow.

 
What is the Women’s K4
team’s schedule in the build-up to Beijing?

We are currently on a four-week training camp in Port Edward
on the South Coast, until the 8th of Dec.
We will continue with our base training phase until the end of January in Gauteng and then head
back to Port Edward in Feb/March for another four-week camp where the K4 crew
can train together in the boat for the first time since August.

 
This will be an
exciting time as we will hopefully feel an improvement from our base training
phase. We have local trials and SA Champs in April and then head off to race in
Europe in May/June in preparation for the
Games. We will be in Europe until the end of July and then we’ll travel to China at the
beginning of August 2008. Racing starts around the 19th for
us. 

 
Where does your love for
canoeing come from?

My sister encouraged me to start paddling about 12 years ago
and I have always been a water baby and very competitive; canoeing allows me to
express both of these characteristics. It was a school sport and I spent many
hours on the river, training and playing. I have raced in most of the rivers in
the country and have now represented SA at sprint and marathon paddling. It is
my life!

 
What is your advice to
women who would like to break into this sport?

Canoeing generally is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed at
many levels. It can be very social or competitive – provincially, nationally
and internationally. There are many disciplines to be explored, river racing,
slalom, white-water, marathon, sprinting, the latter being our discipline.

Canoeing South
Africa is the federation to contact in order
to get involved. You can visit the website www.canoesa.org.za

 

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Launched in 2006, gsport exists to enhance the commercial prospects of our women athletes, and other women in sport, by telling the inspiring story of SA women in sport. Thank you for your contribution!

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