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Portugal Sprint World Cup Inspires development athletes to progress

As opportunities go they don’t come much better than this weekend’s World Cup 1 in Montemor-o-Velho.

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Most of the familiar British names weren't competing, preferring to focus on preparing for World Cup 2 next week-end in Duisburg. British Canoeing instead selected a team of development athletes to gain further international experience and in many cases make their international debut.

The point of sending 15 young athletes to Portugal this weekend was, says the organisation’s Olympic Development Programme’s Lead Coach, Ian Wynne, a reality check that would help set their sights realistically on what they need to achieve to compete at the top level.

And it was unfamiliar territory for most. Having never previously competed in a senior international, 20 year old K1 paddler Daniel Johnson (Chelmsford) had been aiming for a top three place in one of this weekend’s B Finals.

On Saturday he came close to that that by finishing fifth in the Men’s K1 1000 B Final with a Personal Best. But today he exceeded his expectations by finishing ninth in the K1 500 A Final, following a second place and a PB in his semis.

“I’m very happy with my weekend and getting to the A Final is a lot better than I had expected ,” said Johnson, who competed in last year’s u23 World and European Championship.

“Before coming here I was aiming to get top a three in a B Final in one of my races, either 500 or 1000. But I’m very happy to do well in both and to get PBs in an international race.

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“The moment I qualified for the A Final I was looking forward to seeing where I could come and to see how long I could stay in the race for. Being on the start line in today’s A Final was exciting and I just focussed on trying to calm my nerves before the start.

“I’m really pleased with the result and I want to build on that this year.”

The time gap between international regattas had been even greater for Men’s C1 competitor, Jonathan Jones (Fladbury), whose only previous international team experience was as part of the British Team in the 2013 Olympic Hopes regatta.

He admitted to being “thrown in the deep end” at this weekend’s World Cup. But he kept composed to produce a third place in today’s semi finals which qualified him for the A Final and an eventual 9th place.

“The only thing I was thinking was just to beat someone and not come ninth in my first race,” he joked afterwards.

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"It was quite a surprise to make the A final today and, having only seen these guys on TV, it was pretty incredible to be lining up against them. Even changing in the same boat shed as Attila Vajda (former world champion) was quite an experience.

“This weekend has been huge for the confidence because I came through some pretty tough heats and got a PB in the 1000 and a PB in the 500 semis. Having mostly raced at Nottingham it’s really good to race on a flat course and get some PBs.”

Amongst the other standout performances of the weekend were the new K2 crew of Lewis Fletcher (Linlithgow) and Matthew Robinson (Brunel University) who missed out on their men’s 200 A Final by one place.

Likewise Sean Redmond (Linlithgow) just missed the men’s K1 500 final after a fourth place in this morning’s semis.

Conspicuous in the team as being a regular senior team competitor, Hannah Brown (Bradford on Avon) was given the opportunity to compete this weekend having only recently recovered from a long running virus.

Today she confirmed herself fit and healthy after a seventh and eighth place in respective women’s K1 500 and 200 B Finals.

“To come here, race and still be in the mix, especially in the 200, it’s good to see everything is running well again,” said Brown, who has been given a reserve place for the World Cups 2 and 3 taking place over the next two weekends.

“I did have a good winter’s training so it’s good to get out and race. I will now hit the aspects in training before hopefully I’ll be targeting the July selection race and Milan World Championships.

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“This week has been really refreshing to be alongside some of the developing athletes and see some of their enthusiasm for the sport.

“It’s really awesome to see so many smiling faces and learning heads on the water, particularly in the Canoe classes where in previous years we have had only a couple of athletes. I’m sure they will be motivated and get back and train even harder.”

Reflecting on the competition Ian Wynne said: “Overall we are very proud of how our team has operated this weekend.

“There have been some very hard races but that’s just the reality of where they are and I hope every one of them will leave this regatta inspired to progress even further.

“It’s a tough reality check for them but having experienced a high level of competition against some of the world’s best athletes they will have a greater understanding of what they need to set their sights on to achieve at this level.”

2015 Sprint World Cup 1, Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal

K1 Senior Men 200

Jordi Eccles (Anker Valley) semis 9th, 18th overall

K1 Senior Men 500

Daniel Johnson (Chelmsford) A Final 9th

Sean Redmond (Linlithgow) semis 4th, 13th overall

K1 Senior Men 1000

Daniel Johnson (Chelmsford) B Final 5th (14th overall)

K1 Senior Men 5000

Thomas Lusty, A Final 13th

Daniel Johnson (Chelmsford), A Final DNF

K1 Senior Women 200

Hannah Brown (Bradford on Avon) B Final 7th, 16th overall

K1 Senior Women 500

Hannah Brown (Bradford on Avon) B Final 8th, 17th overall

K1 Senior Women 5000

Sam Rees Clark (Loughborough University) A Final 8th

K2 Senior Men 200

Lewis Fletcher (Linlithgow) & Matthew Robinson (Brunel University) semi 4th, 13th overall

K2 Senior Men 1000

Tom Lusty (Solihull) & Sean Redmond (Linlithgow) semi 7th, 16th overall

K4 Senior Men 200

Jonny Tye (Worcester), George Mitchell (Worcester), Joe Beevers (Wey), Peter Bannister (Wey), A Final 10th

K4 Senior Men 1000

Jonny Tye (Worcester), George Mitchell (Worcester), Joe Beevers (Wey), Peter Bannister (Wey) Heat 7th, to semis (Sunday) semis 6th, 15th overall

C1 Senior Men 200

Joseph Hayman-Joyce (Wey) semis 6th , 15th overall

C1 Senior Men 500

Jonathan Jones (Fladbury) A Final 9th

Iain Weir (Banbury) semis 4th, 13th overall

C1 Senior Men 1000

Jonathan Jones (Fladbury) semis 5th, 14th overall

Iain Weir (Banbury), semis 9th, 18th overall