The world’s best canoe slalom paddlers are gathered in Prague, Czech Republic this weekend for the World Cup Final and the last racing opportunity ahead of the 2019 World Championships, where vital Olympic places for Tokyo 2020 will be secured.
With a huge entry, today’s competition saw heats of more than 50 paddlers in all four Olympic boat classes. However the strength in depth of the 10-strong British contingent shone through with 11 out of 12 boats paddling smoothly through to the weekend’s semi finals.
In the men’s canoe single (C1) class, there was added pressure on the British trio of David Florence (Lloyds Register), Ryan Westley (Lower Wharf) and Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone), with this competition also doubling up as their second Olympic selection event.
Ryan Westley had the very best of starts, showing that he is finally recovering from the shoulder surgery that gave him a medical dispensation from the proposed first Olympic selection event at Easter, resulting in it being switch to this weekend. A superb run up against the world’s best, saw him paddle straight to the top of the leader board and take the win on first run in a clean 95.45 seconds to go straight through to tomorrow’s semi final.
There were also strong performances from David Florence and Adam Burgess finishing in 16th and 18th places respectively to join Westley in the semi final after first run. Florence picked up a couple of touches on gates 9 and 12, but his speed was fast enough to see him go through with 100.66 seconds, whilst Adam Burgess went clean with a super smooth run posting 101.28 seconds.
In the women’s kayak single (K1), the first heat run saw a brilliant performance from Kimberley Woods (Rugby), who just missed the podium at World Cup 1 finishing fourth. Only a touch on gate 11 prevented her from topping the leader board today with a time of 103.32 seconds to progress through to the semi final tomorrow in second place.
There was a solid run from 2018 World silver medallist, Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) who also picked up a touch, but her time of 105.89 seconds was enough to ease through in 9th place.
However there was disappointment for double Olympian, Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) today, as she picked up two touches on both runs and couldn’t find her usual lightning speed to compensate. She finished 15th on second run with a time of 112.49 seconds and ended five places below the final cut.
The British women were quickly back in action, with Woods and Franklin both doubling up and competing in C1.
Buoyed by her form in the morning’s K1 heats, Kimberley showed that she had got the measure of this tricky Prague course, where she has previously won C1 World Cup gold. Despite a couple of late called penalties, she cruised once more into second place recording 111.63 seconds and straight through to her second semi final of the weekend.
Likewise, Mallory gave another fine performance to also go through in fifth place with 113.29 seconds including two touches, securing her second semi final spot.
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) completed the British C1 trio and in her first season on the senior team she was hoping to qualify through to her third successive World Cup final. Frustratingly she finished one place below the top 20 cut on first run and had to go again. This time she made certain of it going fast and clean to finish in second place.
In the men’s K1 heats, Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) was looking to consolidate what has been an up and down World Cup campaign, failing to make the final at Lee Valley and then matching his best ever result with a fifth place at World Cup 3 in Tacen. And a stunning clean run from the Scot showed him at his best, posting 90.70 seconds to easily qualify for Sunday’s semi final in an impressive fourth place.
Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) was relishing being back in competitive action today as he went off second last in the massive field of 78 paddlers. The World Cup 1 gold medallist put down a confident, clean run well within himself, to post 91.78 seconds and go safely through in seventh place.
Like Clarke, Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) had also enjoyed success at the Lee Valley World Cup 1 with a fourth place to record his best ever World Cup result. Focusing on training since then, he showed that it is paying off, delivering a fast clean run of 93.59 seconds to make it a GB full house in the Men’s K1 semi final in 15th place.
Tomorrow’s semi finals in the Men’s C1 and Women’s K1 start at 0800hrs.
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DAY 1 RESULTS SUMMARY
Men’s C1 Heats
Ryan Westley (Lower Wharf) – 1st Run 1st and qualifies for semi final on Saturday
David Florence (Lloyds Register) – 1st Run 16th and qualifies for semi final on Saturday
Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) – 1st Run 18th and qualifies for semi final on Saturday
Women’s K1 Heats
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) – 1st Run 2nd and qualifies for semi final on Saturday
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) - 1st Run 9th and qualifies for semi final on Saturday
Fiona Pennie – 1st Run 33rd; 2nd Run 15th to finish 35th overall
Women’s C1 Heats
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) – 1st Run 2nd and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) - 1st Run 5th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) – 1st Run 21st; 2nd Run 2nd and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Men’s K1 Heats
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) – 1st Run 4th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) – 1st Run 7th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) – 1st Run 15th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday