Marathon canoeing sees competitors travel large distances ©NCC

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) has backed Pietermaritzburg to host a successful Marathon World Championships in 2017 after visiting the host venue in South Africa.

The governing body's Canoe Marathon Committee watched a test event at the Natal Canoe Club (NCC) ahead of the Worlds next year.

Stefan Gustafsson, a member of the Committee, told The Witness: "The facilities are excellent.

"This club is made by canoeists for canoeists, and that's a great thing."

ICF canoe marathon chair of the board of directors Jorn Cronberg added: "There is lots of open space and lots of opportunities for spectators."

Canoe marathon, which is not on the Olympic programme, sees paddlers tackle lengthy distances.

Portages, where the canoe is carried over land, also form part of races.

The Natal Canoe Club will host the World Championships in 2017
The Natal Canoe Club will host the World Championships in 2017 ©NCC

South Africa's former K2 junior champion Louis Hattingh won the test event.

The World Championships in Pietermaritzburg will be the first in Africa since Cape Town, another South African city, hosted in 1998.

"Marathon is strong in South Africa with all the paddlers, and they will really go for it this time to be South African heroes here on their own turf," said Gustafsson.

"Hungarian paddlers have already started visiting here, with Adrian Boros and Vanda Kiszli and some others coming out this winter."