Olympic Champion Liam Heath set the world’s fastest ever men's K1 200m time as he successfully defended his Sprint European Championships title in Plovdiv today.
That was an unbelievable run out– Liam Heath
“I always knew this could be a quick course from the times that were put down at the European junior and under 23s last year," said a delighted Heath after winning the final in 33.38 seconds, 0.408 seconds better than the previous best time.
"So the potential was to get some really good times at this regatta.
“The conditions today allowed for it. It was dead calm, there was a bit of rain flattening the water, the air and water were nice and warm, and I was in good condition for it.
“It’s very rare you get the opportunity to race with all those boxes ticked.”
Heath has been super-consistent in the event since he decided to race the K1 at the start of last season, at the same time continuing his successful K2 200 partnerships with Jon Schofield.
Before today he had won a gold and a silver on the 2017 world circuit. So just how does he explain it?
“Since 2010 our little group have been quite good at getting the consistency right and over the years we have fine tuned all our preparation and know how to peak for certain periods in the year,” he replied."
It’s all about getting onto the start line in the best condition and pushing yourself down the race to test yourself and see what you have got– Liam Heath
Having begun racing the K1 in the Olympic year of 2016, when the Games effectively takes the place of a world championships, Heath has not yet raced the K1 in a worlds. But he will get the opportunity to do so when the Czech Republic venue of Racice hosts the 2017 World Championships next month.
With the next block of training starting soon after he returns to Britain, the prospect of holding World, Olympics and European titles in the same year is more that attractive.
“It’s another thing I‘m looking to tick off this year and it’s something that’s really driving me forwards at the moment,” he explained.
“Tim Brabant has been World, Euro and Olympic Champ at the same time, so that’s something that I’m hoping to achieve.”
In the day’s other action the team’s recently formed women’s K2 partnership of Hannah Brown and Angela Hannah continued to improve.
On Friday they narrowly missed the A final in the 500m event but today they missed the podium in the 200m final by a slender margin of just 0.10 of a second. Their time of 37.217 is the second fastest time ever by a British pair.
“We are improving with every race - we go out and attack it in a certain way and we learn for the next one,” said Brown who joined forces with Hannah in February.
We both enjoy the 200 in our K1s but we hadn’t ever tried it in K2 before. We had hoped to gel well but it’s still a bit of a surprise that we did– Hannah Brown
“It’s a whole different art with the stroke rate, the speed and having to match the other person but we work well as a team on and off the water.
“It’s been a good journey so far and a pretty good championships. Moving forwards for the worlds we are going to take what we learnt back and we’ve got a good block of training at home, so it’s exciting."
Great Britain ended a highly successful Paracanoe European Championships atop the medal table after winning a total of seven medals in Plovdiv this weekend.
On the final day of racing Britain’s four men’s finalists won two silvers and a bronze between them, with all of them setting new PBs over the 200m distance.
Rio Paralympics bronze medallist, Ian Marsden, provided the first medal of the day, taking silver in the KL1M final. His time of 48.904 was just 0.384 behind Esteban Farias of Italy.
Nick Beighton, bronze medallist in Rio last summer, took the bronze again today in a time of 42.956, 1.65 seconds behind race-winning Austrian, Markus Swoboda.
“It took a while to get up and running again after the Rio Paralympics and we've made some significant changes to my technique over the winter so this year was always about progression,” said Beighton.
I'm happy with third place but I need to go away and keep working hard. I'm certainly not the finished article yet, there is definitely a lot more to come– Nick Beighton
Rob Oliver, who finished fifth in the Rio Paralympics, produced the second silver medal of the day in the KL3M final. Jonny Young, who won gold in yesterday’s VL3M final, finished fifth in the KL3M final today.
“I feel like I left it all out there today,” said Oliver, whose time of 38.57 was less than half a second down on winner Serhii Yemelianov of Ukraine.
After a difficult year trying to combine training six days a week on not much sleep, after we had a baby in February, a PB is really unexpected– Rob Oliver
“I wouldn't have been able to do it without the great team I have around me."
Britain finished first on the paracanoe medal table with three gold, three silver and a bronze medal. Austria placed second with two gold medals, whilst Ukraine were third with a gold and a silver.
We’ve had a small team out here but they delivered high quality racing and performances over the past three days– Heather Williams, British Canoeing’s Canoe Sprint Performance Manager.
"Congratulations to Liam on an outstanding performance today defending his European title and becoming the fastest man in the world.
“Well done to all our athletes who reached finals and achieved personal bests over the course of the weekend.”
Sprint European & Paracanoe European Championships, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (14-16 July)
Day 3 Sprint results:
K1M 200m: Liam Heath (Wey) A Final 1st GOLD
K1M 5000m: Jonathan Boyton (Royal) A Final 14th
K1W 500m: Emily Lewis (Worcester) A Final 8th
K2W 200m: Hannah Brown (Bradford on Avon) & Angela Hannah (Banbury) A Final 4th
Day 3 Paracanoe results:
KL1M 200m: Ian Marsden (Trentham) A Final 2nd, Silver
KL2M 200m: Nick Beighton (Shropshire Paddlesports) A Final 3rd, Bronze
KL3M 200m: Rob Oliver (Solihull) A Final 2nd, Silver
KL3M 200m: Jonathan Young (Independent) A Final 5th
For all results visit: https://plovdiv.canoe-bg.com