Matthew Privett from Hermanus High School represented South Africa at the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Bratislava, Slovakia from 13 – 15 September, where 38 of the top canoeing countries in the world participated. On the Friday he competed in the 1 000m K1 (single paddler) and K2 (with his partner from Kwazulu-Natal, Kwanda Mzolo).
In the K1 he finished third in his heat and went through to the semi-finals. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it into the finals, missing out by a mere 0.12 seconds. In the K2, Matthew and Kwanda placed sixth in their heat.
On Saturday the action moved to the 500m course, where Matthew again qualified for the semi-finals. He came fourth and went through to the B-finals – a fantastic achievement against the best in his age group in the world. He also paddled as one of two 15-year-olds in the SA U17 K4 team in the 500m. Despite their inexperience, the team held their own but were unable to make it to the finals.
Sunday was the final day of the regatta and Matthew again took part in the K1, K2 and U17 K4 team in the 200m. He made it through his heats to qualify for the semi-finals in the K1 and K2 events (with a partner from Johannesburg, Finlay Leask). In the K1 200m, Matthew managed to improve his time by 4 seconds in the semi-final and again just missed out on a place in the finals (coming seventh in the semi-finals).
Overall, Matthew managed to consistently place in the top twenty in the U15 age group in all three distances at the regatta. Well done, Matthew!