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Most competitive selection trials ever conclude at Lee Valley

It was summed up by outgoing Head Coach and soon-to-be Performance Director, Paul Ratcliffe, as the "most brutal, most exciting, most competitive" selection trials ever.  

The slalom teams that will compete for GB this season, to be ratified by the International Panel this week, have been thoroughly tested.

The men's K1 Senior event has always promised to be a tight battle after Joe Clarke's pre selection left just two spots available. 

Today's final lived up to its billing with Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) laying down a blistering 94.56 second run, only bettered by Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) whose time of 94.13 included a two second penalty on gate 18.

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Chris Bowers

Huw Swetnam (EyeTee) had been very much in contention after winning day two, but lost considerable time on gate 18 today to finish in sixth place and out of the running.

I knew that to get anything today I had to win. And when Bradley did a good run I knew I had to just go for it and trust what I've done all winter

– Chris Bowers

"I've been close to Bradley and Joe all winter but Huw is there every year without fail pushing people. And the other boys had a good winter's training, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy, it never is. But I knew I had an outside chance (to make the team) and I had to go for it."

Intense relief was the overriding emotion for Forbes-Cryans whose first and second places earn him a provisional place on the K1M senior team this year.  

"It was such a tight selection series once again, the same as Olympic Selection," said Forbes-Cryans.

"All the top three competitors had a win so the second result was crucial today.  There's lots of uncontrollable things in this sport which you can't do anything about and I've been playing with my mind all weekend

"But to pull out that last run, a solid run, is a really good way to end the weekend."

Forbes-Cryans made big inroads on the senior international World Cup circuit last season and feels he can go further still in 2017.

"My new psychologist has made a great impact to my racing and the way I go about training," he said.

"I'm training with fellow Scots Eilidh Gibson and David Florence which is a really good group and we're all good mates.  That makes it a fun environment to come to Lee Valley and train every day.

Last season I made two senior finals and won an individual medal, so I'm hoping for more of the same this year

– Bradley Forbes-Cryans

In the K1M junior event the highly consistent Etienne Chappell (Seren Dwr), added a second place today to his first and second place on the weekend to provisionally book his place in the team for the first time. 

"To get a first and two seconds, which puts me in top place, is completely mad," said  Chappell, who finished just over four seconds down on David Paterson (Manchester) in the final.

"I came here thinking I'd like to get a place on the team but I'm only 15 so there's no rush.  But now I've just go to keep going with it." 

It was a mark of just how hard these selections were that three times Olympic silver medallist and reigning World Champion, David Florence (Lloyds Register), ended the weekend second in a thrilling men's C1.  Top spot went to Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) whilst Adam Burgess picked up third. 

"It's not been my best but it's a super competitive field and I'm just really pleased," said Florence who, subject to ratification, will have qualified for the GB team for the seventeenth time in succession. 

"Making the top three was my aim and you can get on with that season. If you're not in the top three it's pretty brutal and you have to wait and come back next year.

The whole team is ranked in the top 15 in the world which not many other nations can boast. It's the strongest C1 team that has ever been in the history of the sport in Britain

– David Florence

Third in today's senior final - 2.32 seconds down on race winner Tom Quinn (Lower Wharfe) - Ryan Westley took the overall selections win for the first time.

"What happened this weekend was completely unexpected," said Westley.  "Everything surprised me not only my own performance but also a lot of the other athletes around me.

"I feel like I've done myself justice and earned my place on the team but it could have been a completely different weekend.  The runs I've seen from the top six could have easily made World Championships finals."

In the C1M Junior event Peter Linksted bettered his third place on day one by producing a win in today's final whilst yesterday's winner Sam Maingay consolidated with a second place.  The pair have provisional team places along with Piers Oliphant.

Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) completed her C1W selections with a clean sweep of three wins in the Senior and under 23 event.  Today she beat Kimberley Woods (Rugby) and Rachel Houston (CR Cats) into second and third whilst Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan) came fourth.

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Mallory Franklin

"It was good fun because I knew going into it that after two wins in two days no one could beat me," said Franklin afterwards

"I punched the last gate, which is why I'm giggling, and I had to paddle back but it was good fun and it was a bit weird being so relaxed when others are so stressed.

"But it's a privilege to be able to sort it out the first two days then relax on the last."

In the Junior C1W final Beth Forrow (Lee Valley) managed to claim her third win of the weekend ahead of her cub mates Ellis Miller and Hannah Owen.

"I'm speechless," said Forrow who competed for the GB Junior team for the first time last season.

It was reassuring on the first day to get a first and by the second I was hoping I could take three wins, and I did

– Bethan Forrow

Franklin and Forrow later followed up by winning their respective Senior/under 23 and Junior finals in the K1W.

"I don't think I've had a selection series in a while that has had a lot of good runs so it's good to come away with solid performances and enjoy my paddling," said Franklin after finishing the final ahead of Fiona Pennie, who produced the top score of 60 points after winning her second final yesterday, and Kimberley Woods.  All three athletes have provisionally made the senior team.

GB Slalom Selections, Lee Valley Whitewater Centre

Finals results from day 3 (of 3), Monday 17 April

K1M Finals

Senior & under 23

1    Christopher Bowers (Stafford & Stone) u23
2    Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) u23
3     Ciaran Lee Edwards (Llandysul Paddlers) S
4     Steffan Walker (Llandysul) S
5     Huw Swetnam (EyeTee) S
6     Zachary Franklin (Windsor & District) S

Junior under 18

1     David Paterson (Manchester) J18
2    Etienne Chappell (Seren Dwr) J16
3    Jonny Dickson (CR Cats) J16
4    Mike Dickinson (Stafford & Stone) J18
5    Matthew Curry (Lee Valley) J18
6     Ben Haylett (Holme Pierrepont) J16

K1W Finals

Senior & under 23

1    Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) u23
2    Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) S
3     Kimberley Woods (Rugby) u23
4      Amy Hollick (Manchester) u23

Junior under 18

1    Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley) J16
2    Phoebe Spicer (Lee Valley) J18
3    Megan Hamer-Evans (Seren Dwr) J18
4    Hannah Thomas (Lee Valley) J16
5     Isabelle Bushrod (Seren Dwr) J18
6    Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) J18

C1M Finals

Senior & under 23

1     Thomas Quinn (Lower Wharfe) S
2    David Florence (Lloyds Register) S
3    Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) S
4    Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) S
5    Sam Ibbotson (Holme Pierrepont) u23
6    Mark Proctor (Stafford & Stone) S

Junior under 18

1    Peter Linksted (Stirling & Falkirk) J18
2    Sam Maingay (Stafford & Stone) J18
3    Zach Pearson (Holme Pierrepont) J16
4    Robert Fernie (Holme Pierrepont) J16
5    Piers Oliphant (Shepperton) J18
6     James Kettle (Lee Valley) J16

C1W Finals

Senior & under 23

1    Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) u23
2    Kimberley Woods (Rugby) u23
3    Rachel Houston (CR Cats)
2    Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan) u23

Junior under 18

1    Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley) J16
2     Ellis Miller (Lee Valley) J16
3    Hannah Owen (Lee Valley) J16
4    Evie Watson (Holme Pierrepont) J16
5    Daisy Cooil (Tees Tigers) J16
6    Hannah Thomas (Lee Valley) J16

C2 Final

 1          Ben Haylett/Finn Reilly-McQueen (Holme Pierrepont) J16