Durban – The international sprint season kicked off with the ICF Paracanoeing World Championships which got underway in Duisburg, Germany on Tuesday as South Africa’s Graham Paull and Jono Wing did battle with the best in the world, each with an eye on qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this year.

The pair took part in their heats on Tuesday with both qualifying for the semi-finals of their respective races after Wing finished in fifth place in his Men’s KL3 200m heat whilst Paull finished third in his Men’s KL1 200m heat.

It was a difficult race for Paull who had to battle the elements but he was satisfied with his semi-final qualification.

"The conditions are not the best as it is cold and windy but it's the same for all the paddlers," he said. "I had a really bad start but was happy that I could pull through in the end. I was a bit disappointed as I know I could do have done better but that just means I have room for improvement in the semi tomorrow.

“I have trained hard for this World Champs and so I feel confident that I can progress to the final which is the ultimate goal for me,” Paull mentioned.

“If I can do well in the final then that will be great but for now I am just glad that I have got the first race under the belt!”

With their heats behind them, the pair will hope their overnight rest and preparation will stand them in good stead when they return to the water on Wednesday for their respective semi-finals which see Paull in action at 10h50 (local time) before Wing’s semi-final takes place at 11h20.

As a finals berth in the men’s 200m KL1 would be all that Paull would need to book a place in Team South Africa at the Rio de Janeiro showpiece, Wednesday’s semi-final carries added importance.

“Getting into the final will take a lot of pressure off me!

“It has been a busy year for me on the water and to be able to cap it off with a trip to Rio would be the perfect way to finish off the season.

“There is however still some serious racing to be done so I am fully focused on Wednesday’s race!” a motivated Paull added.

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SUMMARY OF RESULTS – ICF Paracanoeing World Championships – Duisburg, Germany

Men’s KL1 200m Heat 2
1.Xiaowei Yu (CHN) 51.06
2.Jakub Tokaraz (POL) 51.20
3.Graham Paull (RSA) 53.58
4.Tamas Juhasz (HUN) 57.30
5.Stefan Volkmann (GER) 57.39

Men’s KL3 200m Heat 5
1.Serhii Yemelianov (UKR) 41.51
2.Scott Martlew (NZL) 43.28
3.Kasper Sønderby Thomsen (DEN) 45.89
4.Janos Bencze (HUN) 46.65
5.Jono Wing (RSA) 47.40
5.Manish Kaurac (IND) 47.40