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Canoe Slalom Head Coach Mark Ratcliffe reflects on Tokyo Olympic Games

A year later than originally planned, Friday saw the conclusion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic canoe slalom event which has run over the last week at a very hot Kasai Canoe Slalom course, where four British slalom athletes made their Olympic debuts.

Slalom Tokyo Scaled

It was a great week for the four athletes; Mallory Franklin, Adam Burgess, Kimberley Woods and Bradley Forbes-Cryans, all reaching the finals of their respective events and Mallory winning C1 women’s silver after a fantastic final performance on Thursday.

We caught up with Head Coach Mark Ratcliffe who reflected on what has been a great Games for the British quartet.

“First of all, I just want to say what an amazing Games it has been considering the circumstances. The Japanese have been absolutely amazing, how they have put the event on. We really felt that over here. I know it has been difficult from a far to see what it would be like but it has been amazing."

The team itself, I couldn’t be more proud of how they have operated. They have been a really close unit this past four weeks. They have put absolutely everything into it. The training on the way up, all the things they’ve had to go through with the testing and the challenges there constantly hanging over you. They have been great as a team. This meant everyone was in a great place ahead of racing.

– Mark Ratcliffe

Mallory Franklin made history this week winning silver in the first ever women’s C1 event at an Olympic Games, and Mark couldn’t have been more delighted for the Windsor and District athlete after years of hard work to get to this moment.

I remember Mallory when she was coming down the graveyard in C1 when she was so tiny. You could tell she was brave and doing something other people weren’t at the time. It has been a long journey to get to this stage to be an Olympic silver medallist, a pioneer in that category and a first medallist in the Olympic Games. Amazing, couldn’t be more pleased for her. She deserves it for all the hard work she has put in over the years, pushing that class forward.

– Mark Ratcliffe

Stafford and Stone athlete Adam Burgess narrowly missed out on a C1 men’s medal in fourth place and Mark was pleased to see how Adam built on his performances round by round.

All the athlete have shown, that under the Olympic pressures and the Games environment, they can all go out and race really well. Adam has performed round by round, building well to his fourth place and his fourth place was an excellent result, 0.16 away. Close, he will know there is more in that for him. He has held up well on the start line and put down his best on the day. So he should be really proud of what he has done.

– Mark Ratcliffe

Sixth place in men’s K1 final for Bradley Forbes-Cryans concluded the week for the British slalom team, and Mark feels Bradley should be proud of how he has performed out in Tokyo.

Bradley, as all the athletes are, is a first time Olympian. To stand up and put a really good run down for sixth. Despite the error early on, he has held that run really well. He will know there is an opportunity in there the way the race went, but again he should feel really proud of how he has handled it and his performances overall.

– Mark Ratcliffe

Kimberley Woods too made the Olympic K1 women’s final in her debut Games and despite it not going her way in the final, Mark said she has been superb during the Games journey and will be stronger for it.

Kimberley has progressed so much over the last 18 months and really felt for her in that final. She has so much energy and enthusiasm for performing and you can see that and it meant so much to her. I was gutted it didn’t go her way in the final, but again she has been superb over this whole period. It’s not just about the final run but about everything she has been put in. She should be really proud and she will learn and be stronger for it.

– Mark Ratcliffe

“The athletes have really felt that support, not just from us out in Tokyo but also everyone back home. Every step of the way. Big thank you to everyone that has put time, energy, commitment and care into it. It’s not been the easiest of years, lots of hurdles to overcome. Everyone has kept working as a team and got everyone on the start line.”