The canoe slalom World Championships drew to a close today in Pau, with two gold, and one silver medal reflecting the tremendous efforts of the GB team this week.
There were three out of four wins in heats, 11 out of 12 boast in semi finals and five boats in finals, showing the strength in depth of the British programme, just one year into the Tokyo Olympic cycle.
But after the heady excitement of Mallory Franklin’s C1 gold yesterday, there was also disappointment for Fiona Pennie, who has been in fabulous form this week.
The 34-year-old Scot had been bringing all her experience to bear in the women’s K1 and just like in the heats, posted the fastest run in the semi final this morning to give herself a realistic shot at the podium.
But Australia’s Jessica Fox had other ideas. Last to qualify from the semis, therefore first to go in the final, she did what Mallory Franklin did yesterday and set a blistering run of 97.14 forcing the others to juggle risk versus reward. None of the field could match her pace and it was then left to Fiona Pennie to give it one final shot.
But it wasn’t to be and in putting it all out there, she picked up a couple of touches. This pushed her down to sixth as she crossed the line, before a late called 50 on gate 10 soon relegated her even further.
A bitterly disappointed Fiona Pennie said: “I wanted a bit more out of the final for sure. I was fastest enough in the semis and when I heard what Jess’s time was I didn’t try and chase it and I knew if I could just do my best run I could still medal.
“Unfortunately I came unstuck at the top, then in the middle section I thought I was going to be too far out on gate 10 and pushed to get in and ended up being too tight.
“I put in great runs in the qualifiers and the semis, winning both, but I didn’t manage to replicate it in the final, so maybe that is something I will look at. When I crossed the finish line in sixth place I thought I had given it my all and that is what it is, but then to get a 50 and drop down was really upsetting.”
Mallory Franklin was also back in action in the K1 women’s semi final, but lost time on the middle section of the course to lie well outside qualification.
It was also a case of near misses in the men’s C1, with all three boats ranked in the world top ten going in, unable to progress to the final. Such is the dynamic nature of this exciting yet fickle sport.
David Florence had a promising start, attacking the course well and was up on the first split, but a touch on gate 14 was enough to slow him down and cost him a place in the final.
Adam Burgess came even closer with a steady, clean run and was less than a second outside the cut. Whilst Ryan Westley also started well, but a touch on gate 12 took the edge off his speed and he couldn’t get things sufficiently back on track.
Reflecting on the week, canoe slalom head coach, Mark Ratcliffe said: “Overall to be in five individual finals and come away with two team medals and an individual gold for Mallory was amazing. It was a strong performance from Mall in this new Olympic class at the start of the cycle. Especially to come from 10th position in the semi final, to go on and put down a really strong run in the final to win.
“Today we would have hope for more, but overall we are quite satisfied.”
DAY 5 RESULTS SUMMARY
Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) – Final 10th
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – Semi Final 20th
Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) – Semi Final 14th
David Florence (Forth) – Semi Final 16th
Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) - Semi Final 23rd
For full results and web streaming: https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-slalom-world-championships/pau-2017/
Look out for the BBC highlights package:
Monday, 2 October
13:00-14:00, BBC Two - Highlights
16:15-17:15, BBC Red Button and online - highlights (repeat)