Great Britain’s women’s trio of Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District), Kimberley Woods (Rugby) and Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) scooped C1 Team gold at the European Championships in Pau, France today, which for Franklin and Woods was their fourth title in a row.
They first won the event back in 2016 and again in 2017 with teammate Eilidh Gibson and last year were joined by teenager Bethan Forrow before Sophie Ogilvie claimed the third C1 Team spot last month. Today they posted a time of 127.14 seconds to finish first ahead of Germany and the Czech Republic.
Also a two-time World C1 Team champion, Mallory Franklin said:
It is really, really good! There was a bit of pressure going in having the three and needing to put down a good run. We managed to stay together and Sophie did really well to come in and deal with that pressure too!– Mallory Franklin
Relieved to have kept up their record of success, Kimberley Woods said: “Every year we have the belief we are going to do it and we have such strength in depth in women’s C1 in Britain. We had a new team this year with Sophie in and last year it was Beth but we are capable of bringing the best out of the third paddler. We are really proud to get four on the trot and it is just going to get harder and harder particularly with a home Europeans at Lee Valley next year.”
A great way to mark her European Championship debut, Sophie Ogilvie added: “This is crazy and there was a lot of pressure going in with two of the best paddlers in the world. We just went out there to have fun and apart from a few touches we put a really solid good run down. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. This whole week has been a bit of a whirlwind, but a great learning experience and to come away with a gold medal is pretty surreal.”
Earlier there was disappointment for Great Britain’s Men’s kayak (K1) Team of Joe Clarke, Bradley Forbes-Cryans and Chris Bowers who thought they had won European bronze to add to the World Championships gold they won in Rio last September.
Going down the course in quick succession, they posted a fast running time of 98.19 seconds, however a two second penalty added for a touch by Bradley on gate 21 saw them initially finish in third place behind the Czech Republic and Germany. However a penalty was subsequently overturned for Slovenia, who moved up to silver with GB relegated to fourth.
Whilst not Olympic events, the Team races always provide the ultimate demonstration of skill and teamwork and offer a thrilling spectacle for those watching from the bank and today’s competition in a hot and sunny Pau, France were no exception.
It was also another successful day for Great Britain in the individual events with five of the six boats in action qualifying for their respective semi- finals on Sunday in the women’s canoe single (C1) and the men’s kayak single (K1).
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) showed she had put yesterday’s disappointment firmly behind her and sat on the start line, third last to go, fully focused on the task in hand. She worked her way cleanly down the course, maintaining great boat speed to set the fastest time of the day 108.71 seconds. Neither teammate Mallory Franklin, nor arch rival Nuria Vilarrubla from Spain could get in touching distance and she topped the leader board 2.38 seconds ahead to go straight through to Sunday’s semi-final. The 23-year-old will relish the prospect of being able to challenge for a third European crown in this event.
Kimberley said: “I was very emotional yesterday as the last time I was here in Pau was for the World Championships and I didn’t qualify in kayak for the semi-final. I tried to think what I did then, so I had a little cry and a little moan, refocused and got a good night’s sleep. I refocused and woke up fresh and came back a lot stronger today.
I really did need a good run this morning to give me confidence. There were still mistakes in my run but I just kept calm. I am very instinctive as a paddler and I really tried to bring that back this season and it really paid off today even in the team run where I got most of the touches.– Kimberley Woods
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District), the C1 World silver medallist, uncharacteristically did not have the best of runs and picked up two touches to finish in 21st position. But she quickly improved on the second run to finish in third and secure her passage to the semi-final.
There was also a semi-final place for debutant Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) who had gone early in the order. Despite also picking four seconds of penalties, her speed was enough to see her squeeze through after the first run sitting on the cut line in 15th place. This will be a huge confidence boost to the young Scot (19), who battled so hard at the British Selection Trials to secure her first ever spot on the British senior team.
Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) was in buoyant mood and showed he was in a class of his own this morning. He stormed down the course to top the leader board in an incredible 84.61 seconds 3.31 seconds ahead of Czech Republic’s Jiri Prskavec, who was on the third step of the podium in Rio 2016 and won silver on the same course at the World Championships last year.
Clarke will be joined in the semi-final by Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats), who enjoyed his best ever season last year and has started well in 2019. The 24-year-old from Roslin near Edinburgh posted a clean 90.80 seconds to qualify straight through in 12th from an impressive field and would love to make his second consecutive K1 European final.
Sadly for Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) he was unable to make it a full house for GB and his own third back to back European final. He finished 29th on his first run and despite picking up a bit of speed on his second, he once again accumulated two touches that ultimately proved costly, finishing immediately below the cut in 11th place.
Taking place tomorrow will be the semi-final and final of the men’s C1 and women’s K1 with five British boats in action.
You can follow all the action from the European Championships via the British Canoeing live blog which can be found here: britishcanoeing.org.uk/live with highlights on Twitter @BritishCanoeing.
DAY 2 RESULTS SUMMARY
Men’s K1 Heats
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) – Heats 1st Run - 1st & qualifies for semi-final on Sunday
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) – Heats 1st Run - 12th & qualifies for semi-final on Sunday
Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) – Heats 1st Run - 29th; 2nd Run - 11th
Women’s C1 Heats
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - Heats 1st Run - 1st & qualifies for the semi-final on Sunday
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) – Heats 1st Run - 15th & qualifies for semi-final on Sunday
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – Heats 1st Run - 21st; 2nd Run - 3rd & qualifies for semi-final on Sunday
Women’s C1 - Mallory Franklin, Kimberley Woods, Sophie Ogilvie – 1st GOLD
Men’s K1 – Joe Clarke, Bradley Forbes-Cryans, Chris Bowers – 4th
Women’s K1 – Mallory Franklin, Kimberley Woods, Fiona Pennie – 7th
Men’s C1 – Ryan Westley, David Florence, Adam Burgess - 10th