Great Britain made a promising start to the 2018 Canoe Slalom European Championships in Prague today, with all 12 boats progressing through heats to the semi finals over the weekend.
Amongst the highlights was a fabulous performance from17-year-old Bethan Forrow, who made her senior debut in the women’s canoe single (C1), whilst still a junior paddler. The course proved tricky for all the C1 women, with penalties picked up across the board. Nevertheless reigning World Champion, Mallory Franklin and 2017 European Champion, Kimberley Woods made short work of it, to fly straight through to the semi final after the first run, conserving their energy for the kayak (K1) heats later in the day.
The path however wasn’t quite so smooth for the Lee Valley Paddlesports’ youngster, who only took up the sport after being inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games. Having represented Great Britain on the junior team since 2016, this year Bethan made her senior breakthrough at the selection event in April to claim the third women’s C1 spot at just16 years of age.
Her tentative first heat run saw her pick up eight penalty seconds to finish 25th. Undaunted by the challenge of the top five finish needed to progress through from the second run, she knocked nearly 30 seconds off her time to finish fourth in 117.46 seconds. She impressively posted the fifth fastest C1W time of the day, to join Franklin and Woods in the semi final tomorrow.
Ecstatic with her first senior race, Beth said: “I was so excited to get on the course and give it a go and just show what I am capable of. I didn’t have a great first run but I just tried to relax myself and go out fighting on the second run and pulled out a run that I was so, so pleased with!
On my first run I wasn’t 100% confident in my plan, but in the second I just stuck to it and didn’t panic and it paid off. Most of the course will be the same tomorrow with just four gate changes. I will just come out fighting and I have nothing to lose.– Bethan Forrow
In complete contrast, 35-year-old Fiona Pennie, competing in her 16th international season and the 2013 European Champion, clearly showed how to make experience count. A storming, clean run posting 93.49 seconds saw her top the leader board and progress swiftly through to Sunday’s semi final.
She will be joined in the semi final by Kimberley Woods who also qualified through on the first heat run and Mallory Franklin who won the second.
Fiona Pennie said: “It is a really tight, twisty course that you need to think about, so I just picked my way down it gate by gate, as it is not the course with just one big move and that seemed to do the trick.
“It was a good performance to kick the season off with and we will see what the next course is like and how things go on Sunday.”
In the mens’ K1 Bradley Forbes-Cryans made a confident start to his season finishing sixth, with Olympic Champion Joe Clarke just behind him in seventh and they will be joined in the semi final by teammate Chris Bowers who came strongly through the second heat run.
There were also good performances by David Florence finishing third in the first heat of the men’s C1 to go straight through to semis. He was later joined by Adam Burgess who won the second run and Ryan Westley who was second, to ensure a full house of 12 boats for Great Britain in the semi finals over the weekend.
A buzzing Adam Burgess said: “I would never choose to be in second run, but once I’m there I actually love it. There was real pressure, looking around and seeing the big names that were there and it was very exciting.
“I took a lot from my performances at selection and I have been in this position before and I’m trained for it, so I know I can deal with it. I didn’t do a lot wrong on my first run and I was so in control and I was more surprised I had the penalties, but that’s canoe slalom. Now I’ve got the advantage where I’ve done two really solid runs, feeling in control, so it couldn’t really have worked out any better.”
Racing continues tomorrow with semi finals and finals in the women’s C1 and Men’s K1.
For live results go to: https://siwidata.com/canoelive/#/live/eca/1373
You can also watch live on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvuzV1ezx78
FRIDAY RESULTS SUMMARY
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – Heats 1st direct to Semi Final Saturday
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - Heats 4th direct to Semi Final Saturday
Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley Paddle Sports) – Heats 1st Run 25th; 2nd Run 4th to Semi Final Saturday
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (C.R Cats) – Heats 6th direct to Semi Final Saturday
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) – Heats 7th direct to Semi Final Saturday
Christopher Bowers (Stafford & Stone) – Heats 1st Run 34th; 2nd Run 6th to Semi Final Saturday
Fiona Pennie (C.R Cats) - Heats 1st direct to Semi Final Sunday
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - Heats 12th direct to Semi Final Sunday
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – Heats 1st Run 21st; 2nd Run 1st to Semi Final Sunday
David Florence (Forth) - Heats 3rd direct to Semi Final Sunday
Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) - Heats 1st Run 19th; 2nd Run 1st to Semi Final Sunday
Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) - Heats 2nd Run 2nd to Semi Final Sunday