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Deborah Kerr wins K1W 200 Final at European Olympic Qualifier

Deborah Kerr stormed to victory in the women’s K1 200m final on day two of the 2021 Canoe Sprint European Olympic Qualifier and World Cup 1 (Paralympic Qualifier). The victory means Deborah has qualified the K1W 200m boat quota for Great Britain for the upcoming Tokyo Games. 

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Going into the evening session, it was Deborah who was up first for Great Britain in the women’s K1 200m final of the European Olympic Qualifier. The Strathclyde paddler occupied lane four after comfortably winning her heat yesterday.

She took that form into day two and powered to victory, delivering a really strong start out the bucket and fighting off the challenge from the Italian paddler Francesca Genzo to post a time of 43.11.

She said: "I returned to Nottingham from Scotland in August last year with a change in mindset and a clean slate and knew that the April selection regatta would be really competitive.

"I knew that if I was successful there then everything afterwards would be a bonus so I’m over the moon to win today. I was really focused and it was a great experience to lead from the front of an international field.

“I’m really happy to have got the result and earned a quota place with a win.

“My coach Kristina has been amazing, she is a big believer in me as a person and an athlete. She always believes I can do it whether that’s a training session or out there in a race and it’s great to have that support on the bank.”

Chloe Bracewell and Afton Fitzhenry were the second boat to take to the water for the evening session and were into a straight final following the selection event in Nottingham.

The pair were amongst a stacked field of athletes and delivered a time of 2:14.50 to finish in seventh place.

Following her confident heats performance on Wednesday where she finished second, Katie Reid took a third place in the women’s C1 200m earlier in the day. Katie was part of the trio that stormed ahead of the rest of the pack, and finished with a time of 50.80, just over a second ahead of Maria Corbera from Spain.

Dave Phillipson got the morning session off to the best possible start in the men’s KL2 heats.

The Nottingham athlete lined up in Heat 1 and stormed ahead of his competitors right from the start. There was no catching the two-time VL3 medallist as he powered ahead of the remaining field to come first with a time of 45.19 to directly progress into Saturday’s final with the quickest time across the heats. 

He said: “My performance this morning wasn’t necessary what I was expecting to be fair. There were a few in my heat that are usually really quick. It was really interesting to see how everyone performed and I went out and gave it my all.

"I slipped a couple of strokes at the start but I got back on it and settled nicely. My performance and the way my winter training has gone has paid off. I think I performed really well today."

Being quickest in the heats gives me confidence for Saturday. Hopefully I can get a better start on Saturday, it sounds like conditions are going to be similar. I think do the same again, with a better start

– Dave Phillipson

“It was great to get back out there. It is so good to get some warm water competition. My adrenaline just kicked in and it worked to my advantage.”

British teammate Nick Beighton was also in action in the men’s KL2 and will join Dave in Saturday’s final. The Rio 2016 bronze medallist finished second in his heat, meaning he required a semi-final result to make it into the final. It was an extremely tight semi-final too, with just 0.01 seconds separating Nick and Markus Swoboda in first place, meaning they both take their place in tomorrow's final.

Rob Oliver will be competing in the men’s KL3 final after two confident performances during the morning. A strong run in his heat where he topped the field with a time of 43.76, the 2019 World Cup silver medallist backed that up in his semi-final, where again he triumphed in a time of 43.41 to book his spot on Saturday.

The afternoon’s racing saw 2019 World Championships silver medallist Laura Sugar power directly into Saturday’s women’s KL3 final. Going into only her second international season of paracanoe, Laura got a good start out the bucket and took an early lead. That lead was only extended from Laura as she finished first in a time of 52.63.

Jack Eyers will compete in the VL3 men’s final after winning the semi-finals. Jack, who won bronze at both the World and European Championships in 2018, looked strong from the off before using his trademark second half speed to fend off any challenges from the remaining field to win the semi-final and take his place in Friday’s A Final.

Sixth place for Stewart Clark in the men’s VL2 semi-finals unfortunately means he didn’t progress through to Friday’s final. Stewart, who initially made his international debut for Britain back in 2011, was amongst a stacked field in his event, and with just one second separating the top six, was unlucky not to claim a top three spot required.

Scott Simon, Interim Flat Water Head Coach said:

"I'm delighted for Deborah and her coach Kristina. It's a showing of all their hard work they've put in not just over this year but over successive years. Just to see Debs come up and deliver that level of performance was just amazing.

"It was really competitive final for Katie, but she will pick herself up and go again in Barnaul next week. With Afton and Chloe, they gave everything they've got and I couldn't be prouder of the pair for what they put out there. Charlie Smith shows he belongs at this level, smashed his PB, just a really good performance.

"We've had a good day in the paracanoe too as they took on their heats and semi-finals. There have been some really strong performances in quite tricky and windy conditions."