Lack of proper equipment slows down Lespoir


Lespoir (right) and coach Albert

He was speaking at the Zimpeto stadium in Maputo, shortly after rejoining the rest of Team Seychelles at the Games Village, after spending a week in Chidenguele where the canoe competition took place.

Lespoir said more than 15 contestants had to draw straws to get to race in the only large canoe at the Games, while the others had to race in medium-sized canoes.

When he was lucky to get to race in the big canoe Lespoir came out first in all the heats he took part in. In his first event, the K1 1000m, Lespoir took 4 minutes and 10.8 seconds (4:10.8) to finish first, while in the final he was sixth in 4:19.41 in a smaller canoe. The race was won by Tunisian Ali Mohamed Mrabet in 3:40.3.

In the K1 200m, Lespoir easily won his heat in 40.83 seconds and qualified for the final. Racing in a medium size canoe in the final, Lespoir had to wait for more than 15 minutes before the jury could decide who between him and Egypt’s Mostafa Saïd would win the bronze medal.

Saïd eventually took the bronze on a photo finish and Lespoir settled for fourth position with 43.19 seconds.

Lespoir said the competition was very hard and that both his level of canoeing and that of the other paddlers in Africa has risen rapidly. He added that he had to take part in other races than his specialty – the 200m – to increase his chances of winning a medal due to the lack of proper equipment.

While in Chidenguele, coach Phillip Albert, who is also the chairman of the Seychelles Canoeing Association, took part in a four-day seminar for officials.

The seminar, which involved both practical and theoretical sessions, has enabled African officials to better oversee international competitions.

Commenting on Lespoir’s performance at the Games, coach Albert said he is very satisfied despite the difficulties faced.

. Texts by our journalist in Maputo, Roland Duval
. Photos by Joena Bonnelame in Maputo

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