At the canoeing World Championships in Hungary last year, Bridgitte Hartley narrowly missed a spot in the 500m final. She proceeded to the B-final, where she obliterated the field with her trademark power finish, beating the world record and qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. Hartley began her paddling career doing river events, including the Dusi. She completed the move to flat-water sprinting while training at the University of Pretoria and earned national colours in 2006. The biokinetics graduate made the semifinals at the 2008 Beijing Games, and followed this up the next year by becoming South Africa’s first canoeing World Championship medallist, taking bronze in Canada. Training three times a day with her squad in Austria for the upcoming Olympics, Hartley has already tasted success on the waters she’ll race in London, having taken silver during last year’s official test race. Hartley plans to be even faster the next time she and Dorney Lake meet.
— Ian Macleod