(Durban: 29 August 2014) Olympic hero Bridgitte Hartley says she is humbled and extremely proud at having been recognized for the role she has played in developing women’s sport.
The first South African sprint canoeist to win a medal at the Olympic Games, Hartley was among 50 South African sports women honoured at a gala dinner held at the Sandton Convention Centre on August 28.
Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula said the aim of the ceremony was to recognize the immense role and contribution made by women in sport during apartheid and in the 20 years since democracy.
“This really was a spectacular event surrounded by some of the most amazing woman I’m honoured to receive an award alongside all of them,” Hartley said.
Hartley who finished just 1,720 seconds behind the winner of the 2014 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Milan continues travelling the world in preparation for the2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. After a mixed start to her international race season Bridgette is fully focused on bring back a gold medal from the 2016 Olympics.
“My focus is on paddling and gym at the moment, I have been challenging myself a lot more, and trying to get certain speeds in certain sessions, and really trying to push myself to the limit the whole time, so it has been quite tough, but I have also been seeing a dietician a lot more regularly now, she said.
Hartley’s coach Craig Mustard said her success had given more exposure to the sport. “Bridgette’s achievements at the Olympics have opened everyone else’s eyes to canoe sprinting. Now you people they know there is another discipline out there,” he said.