It was a roller coaster day for the six British paddlers in action at the Canoe Slalom World Championships in La Seu, Spain today. With Olympic quota places and points on offer as well as World Championship medals at stake, it was Adam Burgess and Kimberley Woods that came out on top, albeit in very different circumstances.
In the men’s Canoe Single (C1), Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) was sitting on the maximum 60 selection points, requiring David Florence (Lloyds Register) or Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) to beat him and finish in the top five to overhaul him.
With the tension mounting with every paddler down the course, the semi-final threw up some surprises with first Adam Burgess and then Ryan Westley missing the top 10 needed to make the final. For Westley this meant his Olympic campaign was over, whilst for Adam it was a question of sitting tight and seeing what David Florence could do in the final.
By booking a place in the final, David Florence secured Great Britain’s Olympic quota place for the men’s C1 boat, but he still needed to finish top five. He started his run well, but precious time slipped away at the bottom of the course and he had an anxious wait until the final boat on the course pushed him down to sixth place, to effectively end his dreams of a fourth successive Olympic Games.
Gutted to have finished just one place away from beating Burgess, David Florence said: “I knew I had a good chance to win the race. I didn’t have a very good run in the final and I was relying on other guys to make mistakes. I am pretty disappointed but that’s the way it goes.”
It had also been an anxious wait for Adam Burgess. The 27-year-old was disappointed to miss the final given how well he has been paddling recently and said: “It’s bizarre because it has not gone quite how I expected today. The final was so hard to watch all the way through and you couldn’t have written it going down to the last boat.
It is the most competitive category to paddle in and all credit to the other boys as we wouldn’t be as quick as we are without each other and I know how much they wanted it as well.– Adam Burgess
The action swiftly moved on to the women’s K1, where in complete contrast the Olympic quota place was achieved in the heats and the British points race was surprisingly settled by the end of the semi-final.
Kimberley Woods going off early in the order posted a solid 99.65 seconds with just one touch and then had to sit and wait to see the rest of the race unfold. In the end it was enough to make the final, qualifying in eighth place, but more importantly for Woods, she had beaten both her K1 teammates, who sadly failed to make the cut. She then went on to achieve her best ever finish in a World Championships final, coming sixth.
Shaking with emotion, Kimberley said: “I am lost for words! It is my first senior World Championships final in four years, so I was happy to be in the final, but I never thought it would be done and dusted like that. I knew that both the other girls were capable of making the final.”
For Scotland’s Fiona Pennie it was a case of so near and yet so far. She had found excellent pace on the top of the course and was well up on both of the splits, but she got tied up coming out of the last two upstream gates to loose what proved to be vital seconds. She then sat on the tenth place cut line for what seemed like an age before the penultimate paddler, Stefanie Horn from Germany, nudged her down to 11th and cruelly put her out of the final and the chance to extend the race for selection points.
There was also devastation for the 2018 World silver medallist, Mallory Franklin. She knew exactly what she had to do, as she set off third last across the start line. The fastest boat on the water in the heats, she again showed great pace. An early touch on gate 3 could be absorbed, but a further two penalties on gates 23 and 24, as she tried to power through to the finish, proved to be her undoing.
Along with Kimberley she will now re-group for the women’s C1 semi-final and a second chance to secure an Olympic quota place and top the British points race in her favoured event.
Credit must also go to coach, Craig Morris, who has both Kimberley and Adam in his training group.
Day 4 Results Summary
David Florence (Lloyds Register) – C1 Final – 6th
Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) – C1 Semi-final – 14th
Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) – C1 Semi-final – 22nd
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) K1 Final – 6th
Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) - K1 Semi-final – 11th
Mallory Franklin (Windsor and District) – K1 Semi-Final – 20th
The final day of the Canoe Slalom World Championships tomorrow sees the semi-final and final of the Women’s C1 and Men’s K1 with Great Britain having five boats in action.
Follow all the action as it happens on our LIVE Blog britishcanoeing.org.uk/live and for full live results and streaming/VOD go to
See the Great Britain Olympic slalom team compete at the European Championships
Great Britain’s slalom paddlers will be competing on home soil at the European Canoe Slalom Championships presented by Jaffa on 15 -17 May 2020 at Lee Valley White Water Centre. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 1 October. Full booking details on priority tickets are available here