Great Britain’s Emma Wiggs and Jeanette Chippington took gold and silver today in the women’s Va’a VL2 event on the first day of finals at the ICF Paracanoe and Sprint World Cup in Szeged, Hungary whilst the Canoe Sprint programme also got underway.
Both returning to compete in the Va’a outrigger canoe event this season following confirmation that it has been added to the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020, the pair dominated the 200m race from start to finish. It was Wiggs that took the win, but was challenged all the way by Jeanette Chippington.
Speaking after her race the 2016/17 Grand Slam champion said: “The inclusion of the Va’a for 2020 shows that the things we did in Rio made the sport stand out and it is great to get three more medal events (at the Paralympics). But it will be a real challenge trying to double up due to the strength and depth in the British squad.
We haven’t focused too much on the Va’a so far this season as our focus is on peaking for Worlds at the end of the season, so we are not really race ready yet. But based on today we are not in too bad shape and it is credit to the staff and the programme that has worked us so hard through a brutal winter. To be here today and share a podium with Jeanette who is my roommate and my best friend is just great.– Emma Wiggs
Also a canoeing Grand Slam champion, Janette Chippington was also delighted with her performance saying: “I have always enjoyed racing in this boat (the Va’a) and it is great that it is in the programme for Tokyo. I hit the VL2 classification mark so it’s good to be able to race it as well as the kayak. The next couple of years will be interesting as people focus on this event for the Paralympics. There are lots of new people coming into the sport at a very high standard, so it’s really good to see the sport moving on.”
Looking forward to the kayak final KL1 tomorrow she added: “Pretty much all my main rivals are here so it will but tough, but a great opportunity to see where we are all at after a long hard winter.”
Both women will compete again tomorrow in their respective kayak events with Wiggs expecting to be chased hard in the women’s KL2 final by teammate Charlotte Henshaw who transitioned from Paralympic Swimming to Paracanoe just last year.
There were also finals today for all three men’s kayak events. In a very tight race, Birmingham’s Rob Oliver was squeezed out into fourth place in the men’s KL3 with Northern Ireland’s Jonny Young in fifth. In the men’s KL1 and KL2 both Ian Marsden and Nick Beighton finished in sixth place.
Today the Sprint paddlers joined the World Cup action with British interest across a range of heats and semifinals.
Trevor Thomson and Stelian Naftanaila got the team off to a flying start, winning their K2 200m heat to qualify direct for the final tomorrow.
Meanwhile Chris Carson and Andras Kovacs made their World Cup debut today in the men’s K2 500m. They finished sixth in their heat and qualified for the semifinal on Saturday.
Also showing some great early season form, Jon Boyton and Tom Lusty competed strongly in the men’s Olympic distance K1 1000m, both qualifying for the semifinals tomorrow. Boyton finished third in his heat and will be aiming to replicate his best ever World Cup result in this event, finishing fifth at World Cup 1 last year.
23-year-old Tom Lusty, a Building Services Engineering Consultant from Solihull, is now in his second year on the UK Sport Podium Potential Programme. He went out fast and stayed the course to finish fourth in 3:40.42. Tom finished 20th on his World Cup debut here in Szeged last year, and will be keen to show the progress he has made over the last 12 months.
Boyton then teamed up with Tim Pendle to finish ninth in the semifinals of the men’s K2 1000m. Tom Lusty and Daniel Johnson also contested the event and acquitted themselves well to finish fourth in the semifinals and earn a place in the B Final. There the pair continued to show their great early season form and powered through to chase down the leading pack in the last half of the race to claim an excellent third place.
There were a number of British women also in action today and the stand out performance came from Richmond’s Lizzie Broughton in the women’s K1 1000m. After a steady sixth in her heat she went all out in her semifinal to dominate the race and take the win to secure a place in the A final. She continued to keep her form, battling all the way to the line to claim an excellent fourth place.
There were five heats in the women’s K1 500m and Rio Olympian Rebii Simon came back strongly in the second half of the race to finish third and qualify for the semifinals tomorrow.
Both women’s C2 500m crews went out strongly from the start in the heats with Wales’s Nia Tomos and Scotland’s Katie Reid qualifying for the semifinals in fourth and Bethany Gill and Chloe Bracewell also made it through their heat in fifth. Both boats went on to qualify for the B Final on Saturday.
In the last race of the day Matt Bowley finished an impressive third in his heat of the men's K1 500m to qualify for tomorrow's semifinal.
Women’s VL2 - Emma Wiggs (Independent) - Final 1st
Women’s VL2 - Jeanette Chippington (Longridge) - Final 2nd
Men’s KL1 - Ian Marsden (Trentham) - Final 6th
Men’s KL2 - Nick Beighton (Help for Heroes) - Final 6th
Men’s KL3 - Robert Oliver (Solihull) - Final 4th
Men’s KL3 - Jonathan Young (Canoe Northern Ireland) - Final 5th
Men’s K2 200m - Trevor Thomson (Ealing) & Stelian Naftanaila (Nottingham) – Heats 1st & go direct to Final on Saturday
Men's K1 1000m - Jonathan Boyton (Royal) – Heats 3rd & qualifies for Semifinal Saturday
Men’s K1 1000m - Tom Lusty (Solihull) – Heats 4th & qualifies for Semifinal on Saturday
Men's K2 500m - Chris Carson & Andras Kovacs – Heats 6th & qualify for semifinal on Saturday
Men's K2 1000m – Jon Boyton (Royal) & Tim Pendle – Heats 6th, Semifinal 9th
Men's K2 1000m - Daniel Johnson (Chelmsford) & Tom Lusty (Solihull) - Heats 4th, Semifinal 4th, B Final 3rd
Men’s K1 500m - Matt Bowley (Burton Phoenix) – Heats 3rd & qualifies for Semifinal on Saturday
Women’s K1 1000m - Lizzie Broughton (Richmond) – Heats 6th, Semifinal 1st, 4th A Final
Women’s K1 500m - Rebii Simon (Elmbridge) - Heats 3rd & qualifies for Semifinal on Saturday
Women's K2 500m - Emily Lewis (Worcester) & Deborah Kerr (Strathclyde) – Heats 9th
Women’s C2 500m - Nia Tomos (Holme Pierrepont CC) / Katie Reid (Holme Pierrepont CC) – Heats 4th, Semifinal 8th & qualify for B Final on Saturday
Women’s C2 500m - Bethany Gill (Holme Pierrepont CC) / Chloe Bracewell (Holme Pierrepont CC) – Heats 5th, Semifinal 7th & qualify for B Final on Saturday