When Beth Forrow (Lee Valley) completed the fourth and final women’s C1W race of British Canoeing’s junior selections in top place she was understandably thrilled at being provisionally back on the team for a second season (subject to ratification by the International Panel).
But as thoughts turned to celebrating, the realisation began to dawn on her that she could even be faster than the country’s top senior slalom competitors still on the course.
Minutes later when neither European Champion, Kimberely Woods (Rugby), or Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan) could match her time Forrow was celebrating her first win in a senior selection race.
“I’m amazed, speechless,” said the Cheshunt 16-year-old.
I wasn’t expecting to even contend with Eilidh or Kim, so it’s an amazing feeling and four wins from four races in the juniors is also feeling you can never describe– Beth Forrow
Had it not been for Lee Valley White Water Centre it is highly unlikely Forrow would ever have got in a canoe.
Aged 12 she was a talented netball player when British Canoeing coaches visited her school as part of a talent identification programme which screened 1500 local senior school children.
Having then been selected along with 15 other young athletes, just two years later she became the programme’s first athlete and Lee Valley.
“The only way I even heard about canoeing was when the coaches came into our school,” said Forrow, who also provisionally earned her junior team place in K1 today. “Other than that I had no idea that this centre even existed.
“At the time I did basketball, netball and swimming but gave them up a year and bit after I started canoeing. I’m just so glad I was given this opportunity.”
In this morning’s other action Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone), provisionally sealed his place back in the senior team for 2018 after winning his second race of the weekend in the men’s K1.
“Two wins in two races is always nice,” said Clarke, who had been pre-selected for the 2017 senior team as a direct result of winning the men’s K1 title in the 2016 Rio Games.
It’s two and a half years since I did selections, and that win today certainly wasn’t my finest hour. But two wins in two races, I’ll take that– Joe Clarke
An equally consistent Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) finished next to Clarke for the second day this weekend. Four clean runs helped him into provisional place on the senior team.
“It’s definitely a relief for me to come through the selections series unscathed,” said a Forbes-Cryans.
“I think for all the paddlers this is definitely the most pressurised race of the season as it unlocks all the rest of the events for the rest of the year.
“Now provisionally I should be going to Rio for the World Championships this September, which will be my first time out on the course.
“It’s a long way away and still lots to do but hopefully I’ll be in a really good place.”
The junior men’s K1 selections wrapped up today with Etienne Chappell (Seren Dwr) taking his third first place of the four-race series.
“I’m happy to have done it again, that’s for sure,” said Chappell who qualified for the junior team a year ago.
“I just wanted to go out and smash it today and there wasn’t much wrong with my run so I’m happy. Now I just can’t wait for the summer.”
A second place today for Ben Haylett (Holme Pierrepont), who had been determined to improve on Saturday’s sixth spot, means he provisionally qualifies for the men’s K1 under 18 team.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Haylett. “This will be the first time on the team for kayak so it’s a dream really.
“There was plenty of pressure on that run today. Nothing was finished, nothing was done. But I got a good run down and it just worked, whatever I did.”
Haylett later secured a provisional spot in the junior C1 team after finishing his final third behind Peter Linksted (Stirling & Falkirk) and Sam Maingay (Stafford & Stone). In winning today by a margin of 10 seconds Linksted maintained an unblemished run of four wins in four selection races.
“That run in the final went fully to the plan, a nice smooth run all the way down, clean as well which all helps,” said Linksted, explaining the reason for his success.
It’s the amount of volume we’ve done on this sort of water, and putting the runs in time and time again over winter that has given me the confidence to be able to put it down when it matters– Peter Linksted
A better-known Scot, David Florence, won today’s men’s C1 senior final. That first place, added to yesterday’s second means he provisionally books his place on the British senior team for no less than an eighteenth season in a row. Ryan Westley, yesterday’s winner in the category and second today, also provisionally makes the team.
“The standard is getting harder and this is the hardest C1 selections yet,” admitted Florence.
It’s really tough and I’m really pleased I got a good second run today. Some of the other guys were good and I was just on the right side of it.– David Florence
“Obviously I’d love to win every run and to get your place in the team when it’s so competitive is great.”
With the third place men’s C1 place up for grabs on the final day of senior selections tomorrow, Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) pulled himself into contention with a third place today.
“It was not the nicest of runs and I had to fight all the way,” Burgess said. “Some people don’t think I have that in my locker so it was nice to prove that I have today.
“I’m right back in the mix after a disappointing start yesterday. It never gets easier; this would be my fourth year on the team if I can do it and I’ve had to fight harder every year.
“It’s so tight but with the quality we have in this class, we are going to have boats not making the team who are capable of winning world champs medals.”
Wrapping up the day two of the senior competition, Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) won the women’s K1. Two wins in two days means she is provisionally back on the senior team for 2018. Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) finished the category second to Franklin on both days day so far.
The final day of Senior and under 23 selections conclude tomorrow.
For all results click here
Pictures by AEphoto