With near perfect racing conditions in Montemor-O-Velho, Portugal for the opening day of the 2018 Paracanoe and Sprint World Championships, Great Britain’s paracanoe athletes got straight down to business with eight out of 10 boats qualifying for A finals and the remaining two for B finals. The day then finished in style with a brilliant bronze for World Championships debutant, Charlotte Henshaw, in the women’s VL3 - the final race of the day.
Stoke-on-Trent’s Ian Marsden got the team off to a strong start in the men’s K1 200m KL1 class, finishing second in his heat to qualify direct for the A Final tomorrow. Today also marked a return to the regatta course where Ian made his international debut back in 2013.
Since then the 46-year-old has gone from strength to strength. A two-time European champion and two-time World silver medallist, Ian finally achieved his dream in Rio in 2016 where he won Paralympic bronze. However todays result will be particularly pleasing given the disrupted season he has had so far, with essential surgery which saw him miss out on the European Championships in June.
Reflecting on the day, Ian Marsden said: “I am very happy to represent my country at my sixth World Championships. It’s been a tough year and didn’t think I would be here earlier on in the race season with all the surgery I’ve had. It was a difficult decision to pull out of the Europeans at the time, but the right one. I feel great after my heat today. I stuck to my race process and I am looking forward to the final tomorrow.”
The men’s KL3 class continues to grow in strength and depth and there was more hugely competitive racing again this year. Birmingham’s Rob Oliver went out fast from the start in both heats and semis and held his form to the line. He finished second in both races to claim a well-earned A final spot on Friday, whilst Northern Ireland’s Jonny Young finished fifth in the semi final and will contest the B Final.
Rob Oliver said: “It was a great day of racing and I can't wait to hit the final on Friday. I'm suffering a bit with a cold so the result is even better than I could have hoped for and hopefully I will be 100% for Friday. I’m absolutely buzzing!”
The men’s kayak events continued with a good show of form from European silver medallist, Nick Beighton in the men’s KL2 class. He backed up a third place in the heats with a fast second place in the semi final to progress to Friday’s A final.
Also in the men’s KL2, Dave Phillipson made his World Championship debut today. The European Champion in the Va’a VL3, progressed to the semi final in the kayak, but just missed out on the A Final finishing in fifth place. It wasn’t long however before he bounced back in his main event, the VL3.
With only one boat qualifying direct to the final from the heats, Phillipson went out fast and dominated the race only to be overhauled on the line by the Frenchman, Ronan Bernard. He went on to win the semi final, his fourth race of the day, with teammate and European bronze medallist Jack Eyers making it a British one-two and both boats now progress to the final.
Dave Phillipson said: “I’m privileged to make my debut out here at the World Championships. My concentration was on the va’a this week so I was a bit disappointed not to win my heat, but I pulled it out the bag in the semi so it’s onto the final now.”
21-year-old Chelsey Dixon from Staffordshire was another new face on the British team and she posted an impressive performance in the women’s KL3 class to take third in the semi final and qualify for a World Championship final at the very first opportunity.
The women’s KL2 duo of Emma Wiggs and Charlotte Henshaw also got their World Championship campaign off to a flying start today. Both paddlers decimated the field to win their respective heats by some considerable margin, setting up an exciting final tomorrow.
Speaking after her second event of the day and delighted with her first world medal, Charlotte said:
I am really pleased to come away with a medal in the Va’a as it is not my main event at all, so I'm pleased to come away with a bit of metalwork. I am also really looking forward to the kayak final tomorrow up against Emma Wiggs.– Charlotte Henshaw
The Paracanoe World Championships continues tomorrow and the sprint paddlers will also be in action.
Paracanoe Results Summary
Men’s KL1 - Ian Marsden (Trentham) – Heats 2nd & direct to A Final on Thursday
Men’s KL2 - David Phillipson (Independent) Heats 6th, Semi Final 4th to B Final Friday
Men’s KL2 - Nick Beighton (Help for Heroes) Heats 3rd, Semi Final 2nd to A Final Friday
Men’s KL3 - Robert Oliver (Solihull) Heats 2nd, Semi Final 2nd to A Final Friday
Men’s KL3 - Jonathan Young (Canoe Northern Ireland) Heats 4th, Semi Final 5th to B Final Friday
Men’s VL3 - David Phillipson (Independent) Heats 2nd; Semi Final 1st to A Final Saturday
Men’s VL3 - Jack Eyers (Independent) Heats 6th; Semi Final 2nd to A Final Saturday
Women’s VL3 - Charlotte Henshaw (Independent) – A Final 3d BRONZE
Women’s KL2 - Emma Wiggs (Independent) – Heats 1st & direct to A Final on Thursday
Women’s KL2 - Charlotte Henshaw (Independent) - Heats 1st & direct to A Final on Thursday
Women’s KL3 – Chelsey Dixon (Independent) – Heats 5th; Semi Final 3rd to A Final on Thursday