The April National Regatta took place at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham last weekend and while there was still a chill in the water, the glorious spring sunshine was the perfect backdrop for the first competitive canoe sprint outing of the season.
Although paddlers were all at different stages of preparation for the racing season ahead, the regatta provided the ideal opportunity for athletes from across the country to bench mark themselves against each other after a hard period of winter training, and it was great to see some solid performance across the board.
Many of British Canoeing’s performance programme athletes had recently returned from a period of heavy training in Seville, with two, warm weather camps creating a good platform from which to build on for the rest of the season.
British Canoeing has also now confirmed all the athletes on the squad, with an exciting blend of youth and experience, as the programme beds into its new home in Nottingham.
Spearheaded by Olympic medallists Liam Heath and Jon Schofield and Olympians Rachel Cawthorn, Rebeka Simon and Jessica Walker, the squad also includes an array of exciting young talent, who already have international pedigree of note.
New faces include Noah Dembele who partnered Trevor Thomson to European silver and World Junior bronze in 2016, Tom Lusty and Joe Beevers.
Whilst for the women, eight athletes (five canoe and three kayak) out of an original 15 have progressed to the Olympic Development Programme from the fast track Girls4Gold training programme, an impressive transition rate of over 50%.
One of the programme’s leading lights, C1 200m paddler, Katie Reid, won bronze in her first World Cup in Duisburg last season and followed this up with a 10th place at U23 World Championships and an outstanding 6th place at the U23 European Championships.
Heather Williams, Canoe Sprint Performance Manager is clear where the priorities lie for the programme and is looking forward to the season ahead saying: “It was great to get racing again last weekend and it was good platform for all our programme athletes to build from.
With so many new faces, our early season focus will be on gaining international competition experience at the World Cups in Portugal, Hungary and Serbia and we will select these teams after the May regatta.– Heather Williams, Canoe Sprint Performance Manager
“For our senior athletes the focus will be on the World Championships at the end of August in Racice, Czech Republic and July will be the primary selection regatta for both World and European Championships.
“With the changes to the Olympic programme, which will see the men’s K2 200m drop out, Liam and Jon will both focus on the K1 200m. However it will also be exciting to see the men’s K4 500m event which looks set to come in for Tokyo, when the IOC confirm the 2020 Olympic events in May.”