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Tight racing on day one of GB Selection Trials

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Bradley Forbes-Cryans

Today's first of three selection days at Lee Valley Whitewater Centre included notable success for under 23 athletes who won maximum points in two of the four Senior categories.

Men's K1 Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke, has been preselected for the 2017 season, leaving just two remaining places to be fought over in his event.

With that added pressure Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) and fellow under 23 athlete Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) brought out the best from each other in today's two-run format.

Forbes-Cryans, who competed for the GB senior team throughout last season, was a clear 1.07 seconds quicker in the opening race with both athletes completing clean runs.

Bowers edged ahead in race two, his 86.81 second run putting him into top spot before Forbes-Cryans went faster still, by a mere 0.02 seconds, to claim the day one win.  Huw Swetnam (EyeTee) finished third.

"It was really tight racing today and Chris pulled through on that second run and made me work for the win today, but I'm really happy to take it," said Forbes-Cryans after taking the maximum 30 points.

My plan is always to get a banker in my first run in selections with a good solid run. Then when I heard the times coming from the second run I knew I was going to have to do everything I could to get in there

– Bradley Forbes-Cryans

Said Bowers:  "Today is my best ever result.  It's after a winter down here, a new coach and a fresh look at it from Marc Domenjo, and I couldn't do it without him.  

"I feel pretty happy, just trying to get the plan in, trusting the plan and just going with it."

Mallory Franklin(Windsor & District) emerged from the morning's women's C1 event over four seconds faster than fellow under 23 athlete Kimberley Woods (Rugby).  Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan) finished third ahead of under 16 competitor Beth Forrow (Lee Valley).

"It's a tough course in some places and to get a clean run is not that easy, proven by the first run when only Beth managed it," said Franklin whose 103.96 seconds opening run proved the day's fastest despite a two second penalty.

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Mallory Franklin

"I came into it wanting to do a solid run, stay calm and keep fighting on the front which is what I try and do in training, and it paid off."

The men's C1 provided the tightest race of the day with at least five athletes capable of taking one of the three selection places.

Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone), who broke through in 2016 by reaching back to four back finals in World Cups, produced the fastest run of the day despite his 90.72 second opener including a two second penalty.

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Adam Burgess

World Champion David Florence's (Lloyds Register) first run, 0.95 seconds down of Burgess, saw him end the day in second place whilst Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) came third ahead of Mark Proctor (Stafford & Stone) and Tom Quinn (Lower Wharfe).

"I've never got off to a good start at senior selections before so to take the win on day one takes the pressure off the next two days," said a delighted Burgess.

"I said to my coach today before this race started that it's an honour to be involved in  a race that is so competitive.  The C1 men is the event people are talking about and everyone is excited to see how it unfolds.  

"The main thing today was to be myself.  We know from the training data that I'm fast, so I don't need to worry about pushing it too hard.  I paddled my own way, silky smooth with a bit of confidence."

Rio Olympian Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) rounded off the opening day by taking maximum points in the women's K1.  Despite a touch on each run Pennie was the only athlete in the race to go below 100 seconds, a feat she achieved in both runs.

"It was the best of two runs so obviously I had to keep it going for the second run because anything could happen," said Pennie, whose quickest time of 96.77 seconds on the first run was a 3.29 seconds up of Kimberley Woods.

"My touch on gate one was very similar to my Worlds move in 2015.  As much as I was aiming to go round the pole there I still managed to hit it so it was good to refocus for the rest of the run and hold it together."

Pennie's first selection race was as far back as 1997 but she is as keen, and as fit, as ever.

The start of the season was very good with the simulation race here and the Grandtully event. So I'm pleased with where I'm at, so there's still plenty of life in the body yet

– Fiona Pennie

Selections continue on Sunday and Monday under the ICF format of a semi final with the top placed boats progressing to the final.