Tenth World Championship title for Salt Rock’s Hank McGregor

A tenth world title and a third combined gold medal went the way of Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocké in the men's K2 race on the fourth and final day of the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday. Photo: Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

Led by a bloodied Hank McGregor, South Africa grabbed another two medals on the final day of the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to end up second overall on the medal table.

Saturday’s K1 men’s winner, sporting a large cut above his left eye from a clash of paddles, and partner Jasper Mocké claimed the gold in the final event of the championships to give the 2015 World Paddler of the Year his tenth World Championship title and ensure he completed the K1 and K2 double for the third time.

Despite his experience at winning world titles, McGregor seemed a bit bemused by the fuss.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet to be honest,” said the Salt Rock star.

“I was never going for anything like this and to even win one world title is something special, but to win ten is incredible.

“To win it here in front of the home fans with Jasper was special, and it rounded off a fantastic week for me with my family here.

“The South African public always knew that we were good but to watch to happen first-hand will hopefully encourage people to get into paddling.

“I think that somewhere along the line someone has been inspired to pick up a pair of paddles and give it a go.

“It’s really hard racing with the K2’s travelling at 22km per hour in shallow water, but you can’t get flustered and have to just roll with the punches.”

McGregor and Mocké produced a potent finish sprint to claim their victory, but behind them, in a bizarre photo-finish for second, the Hungarian pair of Adrián Boros and László Solti celebrated their second position before crossing the line.

That allowed South Africa’s second boat of Pietermaritzburg local Andy Birkett and 18-year-old Michaelhouse schoolboy Jean van der Westhuyzen to finish, just centimetres back in third.

The top three were almost identical to the 2016 finish order when McGregor and Mocké beat Boros and Solti with Birkett and his then partner Louis Hattingh third.

This win is also the third time the McGregor/Mocke and Boros/Solti combinations have shared the top two positions with the Hungarians winning in 2015 and grabbing silver last year.

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