Six canoe sprint athletes have today been named by the British Olympic Association (BOA) to represent Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallists Liam Heath and Jon Schofield make their return to Team GB in the men’s K2 200m, with Heath doubling up in the K1 200m.
Liam Heath said: "I am extremely excited to be announced as part of the canoe sprint team heading to Rio 2016. It's my second Olympic Games but my first Games without the home advantage leading to unique challenges. We are currently training as hard as we can to make sure that we are in the best possible condition to race to our full potential."
Rachel Cawthorn, who will go in the women’s K1 500m said: “Being selected to be a part of Team GB is a tough process, the standards are very high, so I'm really proud and excited to be selected to compete at my second Olympic Games. I can't wait to get out to Rio and start competing.
I'd also like to say a big thank you to the small team that helped get me through a difficult patch at the start of this year- the chances of me being here today looked a little bleak for a while, so thanks team.– Rachel Cawthorn, women's K1 500m
Cawthorn will also race as part of the women’s K4 500m team alongside, Louisa Gurski, Rebeka Simon and Jessica Walker.
Rebii Simon, who makes her Olympic debut said: “I'm really excited to be selected for my first Olympics and to take the first step towards achieving my dreams. It's been an exciting journey with the other three girls and the staff and it's only about to get better! I also want to thank everyone who's helped me get here and continue to support me on our journey.”
Five of the team have represented Team GB at Olympic level in the past with Heath, Schofield, Gurski and Cawthorn also taking part at the inaugural European Games in Baku last year.
Jess Walker has been selected for her third successive Olympic Games and will also race in the women’s K1 200m as well as the K4 and said: “I'm very excited to be going to my third Olympics, I feel more confident in the process leading up to Rio compared to London. I know our preparation this year has been great and I am so happy with the team I am working with.”
Whilst Louisa Gurski is also looking forward to representing Team GB again and said: “I have such pride competing at the Olympics and representing Team GB. I can't wait to get out there to race and enjoy the energy of Rio!”
Team GB won two canoe sprint medals at London 2012 with Ed McKeever’s K1 200m gold adding to Heath and Schofield’s K2 200m bronze. That took Team GB’s canoe sprint Olympic haul to six (two gold and four bronze).
It's a dream come true to be a double Olympian. I'm really looking forward to going to Rio to fight for the gold medal in what is going to be one of the most iconic venues of the Games.– Jon Schofield, men's K2 200m
Canoeing first featured on the Olympic programme at Berlin 1936 following its appearance as a demonstration sport at Paris 1924 and has been present at every Games since.
Today’s announcement takes the number of selected Team GB athletes for Rio 2016 to 128 from 11 sports.
Liam Heath (K1 200m & K2 200m), 31 from Guildford, Surrey – Wey Kayak Club
Jon Schofield (K2 200m), 31 from Clitheroe, Lancashire – Soar Valley Canoe Club
Jess Walker (K1 200m & K4 500m), 25 from Hampton Hill, London – Royal Canoe Club
Louisa Gurski (K4 500m), 28 from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey – Elmbridge Canoe Club
Rachel Cawthorn (K1 500m & K4 500m), 27 from Guildford, Surrey – Wey Kayak Club
Rebeka Simon (K4 500m), 19 from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey – Elmbridge Canoe Club
Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission said: “It’s great to add to the canoeing squad for Rio 2016 and welcome these six canoe sprinters into Team GB today. The majority of the athletes come with solid Olympic experience and also many have competed as part of Team GB in the last 12 months having been part of the European Games in Baku.
“No doubt that wealth of experience will stand the team in good stead at the Olympics in Rio as they once again pit themselves against the best in the world. The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is set to be a fantastic setting for the canoe sprint competition at Rio 2016 and what we hope will be a fitting backdrop to a successful Games for the team.”
I am delighted that the BOA has confirmed the selection of our six canoe sprint athletes for Team GB at Rio 2016. It is a small, but strong and experienced team and they are all fully focused on the final stages of training and competition before the Games. With all our plans on track, I know we will be going to Rio in the best possible shape to contribute to the success of Team GB. I would also like to thank UK Sport for their support through National Lottery funding, which has enabled us to deliver the best possible preparation programme for our athletes, supported by our committed coaching and support staff.– John Anderson MBE, Performance Director British Canoeing and Canoeing Team Leader for Rio 2016