On a sensational penultimate day’s racing Ryan Westley and Mallory Franklin added to Great Britain’s burgeoning medal haul by both winning silver in their respective men’s C1 and women’s K1 finals at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in Rio.
Third to go in today’s final on the same course as yesterday, Westley took the lead in a time of 97.94 seconds, bettering the fastest time of the C1 semi finals set by Benjamin Savsek of Slovakia.
A wait which must have been torture ensued as a top level field followed him but only Germany’s Franz Anton could go faster and finished 0.88 seconds ahead to take gold. Another German, Sideris Tasiadis, finished third in 98.87.
“I think yesterday everyone knew it was a tough course and, wanting to be in the final, probably raced it a little bit too defensively,” said Westley.
I knew I had plenty of time to come so changed my plans a bit, went straight instead of a spin and just went out there to do what I can do– Ryan Westley
“When I crossed the line I knew I had done a good run and a competitive time but knew there were plenty of people who were capable of beating it. Another day I could have won the race and equally I could have ended up fifth or sixth.
“So when it was finally confirmed that I had won a medal I was super happy and relieved.”
Today’s silver is an impressive addition to Westley’s C1 European crown from earlier this season and the bronze medal he won back at Lee Valley in the 2015 World Championships.
“Today feels a lot different to my first world’s medal which was probably a bit out of the blue,” explained Westley.
It shows to me, and hopefully other people, that I’ve reached a level of consistency and the medal I won in 2015 wasn’t a one off and neither was my Euros medal– Ryan Westley
The season has been outstanding for the 25-year-old Westley who has qualified for finals in every event entered and finished no lower than sixth place.
“My main improvement has been the real focused technical work I’ve been doing with my coach Mark Ratcliffe over the past two winters,” he continued.
“It’s really hard work picking up the technical improvements and how to work on them because it’s so subjective.
“I feel way more confident delivering everything on the course. I always feel like I am capable of getting the moves and doing them relatively well.”
Competing in her first world championships K1 final, Britain’s Mallory Franklin was first down the course today and delivered a good, clean run before playing the waiting game whilst the remaining nine competitors took on the course.
But just one bettered her time and that was Australian Jess Fox who completed an outstanding season in K1 and bettered Franklin’s time of 104.34 by 2.28 seconds.
This was Fox’s sixth individual canoe slalom title and, in successfully defending her 2017 K1 world crown, she became the most successful individual paddler in the history of the sport. Germany’s Ricarda Funk, with a two-second penalty, was third in 105.32.
“I just wanted to go out there and try and enjoy it which is what I did,” said Franklin.
It’s not nice having to stand there and wait for everyone else to come through but I was really happy to do the run that I did and it’s all I can really ask of myself– Mallory Franklin
“I’m feeling really good and I have really enjoyed today so far.”
The women’s C1 World Champion, Franklin has made significant progress in K1 this season and won two medals in the class on this year’s World Cup circuit. But today’s success makes her a serious contender in this competition.
“My results over the last few races have given me quite a lot of confidence and it’s nice to be up there, but it’s always something you have to fight for and it’s never something that’s settled,” she said.
“For me I just want to enjoy my paddling and hopefully come away with the results I have which is all I can really ask for.”
On what Jess Fox described as the “scary bottom section” of the course, Britain’s Fiona Pennie, competing in her eighth world championships K1 final, unfortunately became unstuck, missing gate 22 and was not able to paddle back up.
Franklin was back in action this evening for the women’s C1 semi finals, where she qualified for Sunday’s comfortably in fourth place.
Sensationally, the youngster of the British team, 17-year-old Bethan Forrow won the semi final with a clean run of 114.20, over two seconds ahead of Jess Fox. Kim Woods will unfortunately not be joining her team mates in tomorrow’s final after finish the semi finals seventeenth.
Britain’s Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke maintained his 100 percent success rate on the Rio course by winning the men’s K1 semi finals and, like Forrow, will go off last in tomorrow’s final.
In an intensely competitive semi final Clarke’s team mate Bradley Forbes-Cryans lost time on the bottom part of the course after a fast start to finish twenty sixth whilst Chris Bowers’ missed two gates and finished fortieth.
Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) – Final 2nd SILVER
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – Final 2nd SILVER
Fiona Pennie (C.R Cats) – Final 10th
Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley Paddle Sports Club) - semi final 1st, to Sunday’s final
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) - semi final 4th, to Sunday’s final
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - semi final 17th
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - semi final 1st, to Sunday’s final
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (C.R Cats) - semi final 26th
Christopher Bowers (Stafford & Stone) - semi final 40th
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