Joe Clarke stormed to the Men’s Extreme Slalom world title and Mallory Franklin surged to silver in the Women’s C1 on a successful final day of action at the World Championships in Bratislava.
Joe showed his power and speed by blasting his way to the front in the final, holding off the challenge of New Zealand’s Finn Butcher to win gold.
With only one boat guaranteed a spot in the heats and teammate Bradley Forbes-Cryans paddling 0.25s faster in the time trial, Joe only made it through when other boats dropped out on Saturday.
But he made full use of his lifeline, winning every single race from then on to emerge victorious and be crowned world champion.
“It was amazing, each round provides a different challenge to overcome so to come through unscathed and win is amazing,” said Joe, who won K1 Olympic gold at Rio 2016 but was eliminated in the heats of the same event this week.
to get the call yesterday to say I’d been drafted in was amazing and I grasped the opportunity with both hands and took the win.– Joe Clarke MBE
“To have the tenth-fastest time trial and still not make it through due to the 32 nations was upsetting, but to get the call yesterday to say I’d been drafted in was amazing and I grasped the opportunity with both hands and took the win.
“It’s hard to put it into words really [what it means] after having such a tough championships and not the best of years overall, to have that gold right at the end of the season in the last event of the competition just made it really special for me and even more so in the Extreme that is now an Olympic event for Paris.”
Elsewhere in the Extreme, Bradley was knocked out in the quarter-finals after being handed a fault for missing a gate, Kimberley Woods exited at the same stage after coming third and in her first taste of head to head racing in the event, Mallory was handed a false start in the heats.
But Mallory had already had a successful morning and having won silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the C1, she matched that result in Slovakia after racing first in the final, nailing a clean run of 99.34s.
She was denied gold by Germany’s Elena Apel who went 0.31 seconds quicker despite picking up a two-second penalty.
“It was nice to be able to do a good run in the final, Elena just pipped me by a little bit but given how long the year has been and that course, it was really cool to be able to put in a good time and come away with silver,” said Mallory, who won the 2017 world title when also going off first.
Mallory had scraped her way into the final by the barest of margins, securing the tenth and final qualifying spot from the semi by just 0.01s.
She added: “I just snuck in but me going off first in the final is always quite a nice place to be because you don’t hear any splits [on commentary], you are just in your own run and you can just go canoeing.
I hoped it would be good enough for a medal and hoped it would win but you never really know until the other girls come through. I’ve just got better at delivering when it really matters– Mallory Franklin
Kimberley, who bagged her maiden senior medal with K1 bronze on Saturday, was unable to make successive finals, finishing 15th with Bethan Forrow exiting at the same stage after placing 24th.
Adam Burgess finished eighth in the Men’s C1 final after qualifying ninth fastest from the semi-final.
Adam paddled well but just came unstuck on the section between gates eight and nine, losing a large chunk of time on his way to finishing in 105.96s on what was a very challenging course.
“It was a really difficult course today and I made one big mistake near the top and that’s the run over really, you can’t compete after that, but I thought I did some really nice work,” explained Adam, who came fourth in the C1 at the Olympics earlier this year.
“I’m quite happy with making another World Champs final, I’m proud of some of the work at least, I put on a show in places.”
David Florence was just squeezed out of a final spot after coming 11th in the semi, 0.71s outside the top ten, while Peter Linksted’s solid run went awry late on as he finished 29th.
With a gold and a silver on the final day plus Kimberley’s bronze and the team gold in the Women’s Kayak on day one, the British team finished fourth in the medal table overall.
Reflecting on the championships, canoe slalom head coach Mark Ratcliffe said: “It’s been great just to be back in racing this year, we’ve been trying to build with the team but with the Olympics, it’s hard to know where you will be at the worlds, so to see the team come together and produce some really good performances and finish fourth in the medal table is really pleasing.
“But obviously we want more than that and we are now gearing up for the Paris cycle, we’ve got a good team and ready to push on once we come back in October.”
On the standout individual performances on Sunday, Mark added: “There’s a lot going on in the Extreme with various faults but Joe’s taken the opportunity that he had and delivered every round which was superb.
“Mallory has had a massive year with silver at the Olympic Games and it is hard to go again because it is such a long build-up but to deliver such a good run in the final, I’m super pleased for her - a brilliant silver medal.”
Results for Sunday 26th September
Mallory Franklin - silver in 99.34
Kimberley Woods - 15th in semi-final in 111.70
Bethan Forrow - 24th in semi-final in 129.78
Adam Burgess - 8th in 105.96
David Florence - 11th in semi-final in 96.58
Peter Linksted - 29th in semi-final in 151.42
Kimberley Woods - eliminated in quarter-finals
Mallory Franklin - eliminated in heat
Joe Clarke - GOLD
Bradley Forbes-Cryans - eliminated in quarter-final