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British Canoeing sprint squads confirmed for World Cup series

Experienced Olympians, Liam Heath, Jon Schofield, Lani Belcher, Angela Hannah, Rebeka Simon and Jess Walker are all named in the squad alongside a strong group of developing young athletes.

Following the same competition plan as in previous years, Olympic men’s K1 200m Champion, Liam Heath, will compete in the second and third World Cups, at Szeged, Hungary (26-28 May) and Belgrade, Serbia (2-4 June).

World Cup 2 will be the first time Heath competes internationally as Olympic Champion, and he’s looking forward to being back in action.

Every year you pop out the other end of winter training and it’s always good to see where you are and how training has been going

– Liam Heath

“The year after the Games can be a funny one because some people who were at the Games might have been resting a bit whilst other people are pushing harder.  So you can get some interesting results," said Heath.

“I just treat it almost as if I’m starting from scratch again.  If you have the attitude of starting from scratch then you always go out there to do your best and don’t get distracted by people out chasing for you.”

20160819 05615 Rio Liam Heath

Liam Heath in action in Rio

One thing has changed in Heath’s life since last summer.  His long term coach, Alex Nikonarov, has moved to China and Eric Farrell, former coach to Tim Brabants, is now helping Heath with his programme.

“We still have Alex’s wisdom written down on paper,” said Heath.  “So we are following that closely and there’s a wealth of information on the times we should be achieving over the efforts and how the sessions are conducted.

“So we know what we need to do. Eric has come out if retirement to help me with my programme and it’s nice for him to be there involved and keeping my motivation up.” This year’s GB squad for the World Cup series is largely a new look one with a group of up-and coming talent who will be in action at the season’s opener in Montemor-O-Velho, Portugal (19-21 May).

20160625 00682 Moscow Katie Reid

Katie Reid competing in 2016

Scotland’s Katie Reid, who has made rapid progress through British Canoeing’s Girls4Gold programme, finishing third at the first World Cup of 2016 in Duisburg, is due to compete in women’s C1 200m event.

“I’m looking forward to getting back out there amongst the big guns and hopefully all the hard work over the winter will come to fruition,” said 22 year old Reid who has been coached by James Train at Nottingham since the beginning of this year.

“James has a lot of experience in canoe.  It’s very unpredictable and different to kayak but he understands what we are going through and what it’s like.  

“This winter has been the first one where we managed to put down a lot of miles, whereas before our technique just wasn’t of a standard to.

“But now we have a good foundation behind us we are able to work really hard and get some really good sessions in.

We’ve all made significant gains since the beginning of the year and we’re looking forward to the season

– Katie Reid

Reid was recently promoted to British Canoeing’s Olympic Development Programme and is clearly enjoying life as a canoeing full timer. 

“I’ve always dreamed about becoming a full time athlete and every year I’m loving it more,” she continued. 

“We have so much support down here in Nottingham, everything we can ever need to help us on our way.

“It’s good fun and a really positive environment to be in.  Everyone wants to do well and I’m really excited about what’s to come.”

New to the World Cup squad this season is Amy Turner, who like Reid has made a rapid transition through the Girls4Gold programme.

The Oxfordshire 23-year-old, will compete in the K4 500m event with fellow under 23 athletes Sam Rees-Clark, Deborah Kerr and experienced senior competitor Emily Lewis. 

This is a big step up for me but competing internationally is something I’ve wanted to do all my life

– Amy Turner

“Having Kristina as our new coach this winter, and being part of a new training group of girls, has been fantastic and hopefully our racing will reflect our training,” said Turner, who finished sixth in the K2 500 at last summer’s under 23 European Championships and feels she has progressed as part of the group coached at Nottingham by Kristina Medovcikova.

“Having the opportunity to race at senior level is really exciting I’m looking forward to the opportunity to show the improvements I’ve made over the winter.”

In anticipation of the men’s K4 500 being included in the Tokyo 2020 Games, GB will enter a boat into the first two World Cups, with Mathew Bowley, Daniel Johnson, Lewis Fletcher and Matthew Robinson making up the crew for next weekend’s World Cup 1 in Montemor-O-Velho.

“We raced the K4 500 last year in the Europeans and made the A final,” said 22-year-old Bowley.

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Mathew Bowley leads the men's K4 at the 2016 under 23 European Championships

“But now it’s almost confirmed to be in the Olympics, we have had trials and crew boat selections with two K4 boats, so we are swapping and changing a bit to see what works best.

We’re going really well in K4 and we set a course record at the Nottingham Regatta last weekend

– Mathew Bowley

“The boat feels really fast so these World Cups will be a good indicator of how well it can go.” 

In World Cup 1 Bowley and Daniel Johnson will be doubling up by also racing the men’s K2 1000, an event in which the pair finished sixth in last summer’s under 23 European and World Championships. 

“We were very close to a medal last year in the under 23s so we are trying to get that one into the medal zone at the moment,” continued Bowley. 

“We have had a big winter’s training and there’s a big season ahead.  This World Cup is the first taster event of the year so it will be good to find out where we all are and how high up we can get.”

Also announced today is British Canoeing’s junior squad for the Development International Regatta at Piestany, Slovakia (26-28 May). 

This event counts towards selection for GB athletes aiming to compete in this year’s Junior European Championships.   Athletes competing include  Ieuan James, Charlie Smith, Renee Myburgh and Miki Marciniak.  

View full list of GB squad for the 2017 World Cup series and Development International Regatta at Piestany here