The best of the British canoe sprint community were in fine form today for the Inter-Club MacGregor Challenge Open & National Regatta at the National Water Sports Centre.
The paracanoe athletes and juniors were looking to put in performances good enough to book their berths at both the Paracanoe World Championships, and the remaining spots for the Junior World Championships, later this summer.
In one of the most hotly contested events of the paracanoe programme today, the Women’s KL2 races went down to the wire. It was the current grand slam holder, Emma Wiggs, who took the victory in race one, finishing strongly to hold off a late final effort from Charlotte Henshaw. They crossed the line in 49.71 and 49.84 respectively.
But it was race two that saw Henshaw even the stakes. A monumental effort and new PB from Henshaw saw her win her first regatta since making the switch from paraswimming. She finished race two in 49.34 ahead of Wiggs in 49.51 –with both women dipping well under the previous course record of 49.71.
Charlotte said: “It’s been a good day, it’s always great to get out and race against Emma. We’ve shown all season that we are going to push each other to quick times and that has been showcased today with both of us taking one win each.
“That’s what we want, we want the sport to be moving forward and we want British people to be pushing it and being on the podium.”
Rob Oliver took two wins from two in the Men’s KL3. Taking both victories ahead of Jonny Young, who was second and Tim Lodge in third, he was pleased with his results after a nervous start.
“Today has gone really well, the football was a bit of a distraction for everyone but first things first, we needed to get the racing done. I’m really happy with today, with both races. I was a little bit stressed in the first race but after the win, I was able to relax more in the second race and concentrate on getting down.”
European silver medallist Nick Beighton was the top KL2 finisher, beating Dave Phillipson into second place on both occasions and breaking the course record for his second effort, coming home in 44.31, shaving 0.1 seconds off the previous standard.
“It was a really nice day to have a regatta, there was a great atmosphere with the football on too. I wasn’t very happy with the first race, there were a few things I needed to work on which I corrected during the race and I was pleased to come back and deliver a really good performance.”
Paralympic medallists Ian Marsden and Jeanette Chippington both took victories in the KL1. Ian finished both of his races in 50.81 with Jeanette reaching the line in 57.15 in race one and improving to 56.56 for race two.
There were three new competitors in the Women’s KL3 event and it was Chelsey Dixon who won both races, ahead of Keira Nash and Hope Gordon.
Elsewhere Jon Schofield led the team of Olympians and World Championship hopefuls who were putting in a solid day of racing as they set their sights on the main event in August.
A number of selection events also took place for the Junior World Championships, set to be held at the end of July, and for the Olympic Hopes Regatta in September, with details set to be announced later this week.
Congratulations to all competitors who raced today.
Sunday will see a second day full of racing and, if you can’t make it, the live results can be followed here: https://bit.ly/2zkEtNu