Jack Eyers won his first ever World Cup medal after a fantastic silver medal performance in the men’s VL3 event on day 3 of the 2021 Canoe Sprint European Olympic Qualifier and World Cup 1 (Paralympic Qualifier).
After powering through the semi-finals the day before, Jack got off to a strong start in what is an extremely competitive field of VL3 athletes. The bronze medalist from the 2018 World Championships was neck and neck with five athletes all aiming for that podium, and Jack secured second spot, just 0.01 off the gold medal.
Pleased his with winning a medal in his first race back, Jack said:
I’m absolutely buzzing with winning silver today. I am so happy with the result, it was about practicing the process, blowing away the cobwebs and I feel I have achieved that so I am very, very happy with everything.– Jack Eyers
“I’m also happy with how close it was. 0.01 seconds off first is so very tight. It just shows how competitive the field is as a VL3 paddler.
“There has been a real step forward because of lockdown. If I can put a positive spin on the last 12/18 months, is that we have had the time to really focus on fitness and really focus on technique.
“I was a little bit more nervous than I’ve felt in previous races. It was a very different experience. I was a bit more out of the comfort zone but also extremely exciting all the same.”
Olympic Champion Liam Heath started the day in impressive fashion, winning his K1 200m heat in an emphatic 35.79.
Returning to the course two years on from where he qualified his spot for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Liam burst out the start bucket to put down the quickest time across the heats and book his semi-final spot for Saturday morning.
Happy to be back on an international start line again, Liam said:
I’m feeling really good after that heat. It is nice to be on an international start line again and getting some racing done. You go through all the training and it is all building towards performances so it is just really good to be racing the rest of the world.– Liam Heath
“It all comes flooding back. I’ve done quite a few starts in my time so it came back naturally when the officials call you forwards and get ready to lay down an effort. It really didn’t feel that long since I was sat there in 2019 for the World Championships although in reality it has been 20 months.
“All the preparations has gone smoothly and my processes are running without interference and feeling strong on the water so that is the best position you can be in. I just need to rest up and look forward to tomorrow.”
It was a fourth place finish for Katie Reid in the women’s C1 200m heats. Katie was in amongst a competitive field of athletes with 0.35 seconds separating second and fourth, and after having two races in the European Olympic Qualifier already under her belt, Katie progressed into the semi-finals with a time of 50.63.
Fresh from winning the women’s K1 200m European Olympic Qualifier the night before, Deborah Kerr continued her impressive start to the season with another victory in her heat of the World Cup. It was an extremely tight finish to the race with 0.01 seconds separating Deborah and second placed Emma Jorgensen, and Deborah too will go into Saturday’s semi-final full of confidence.
In the same event, Emily Lewis kick started her international season with a solid, fifth place finish with a time of 43.92. Emily got a good start and was neck and neck within the top five athletes, meaning she will line up with Deborah in the same semi-final at 8:24 tomorrow morning.
Tom Lusty took on the men’s K1 1000m and will race in Saturday’s B final after coming sixth in the semi-final with a time of 3:41.22. The Solihull athlete put in some strong efforts during the day and won his heat with some ease.
Afton Fitzhenry and Chloe Bracewell returned to action in the C2W 500m heats after their seventh placed finish in the European Olympic Qualifier, and put down a time of 2:10.41 to take fourth place which progresses the duo to the semi-finals.
The final races of the day saw Deborah Kerr and Emma Russell compete in the women’s K1 500m, after it was recently announced Great Britain has been allocated the boat quota spot for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
With the pair needing a top five finish to progress, Deborah was first up and booked her second semi-final slot of the day after a top two finish in heat 1 with a time of 1:55.90, just 0.64 seconds off another heats victory.
British teammate Emma Russell took on a stacked field in heat 5 and unfortunately finished seventh with a time of 1:58.39 meaning she doesn’t progress through to the semi-finals in the Chelmsford athletes' first senior individual race.
VL3M - Jack Eyers - SILVER
K1M 200m - Liam Heath 1st in heat and progresses to semi final
C1W 200m – Katie Reid - 4th in heat and progresses to semi final
K1W 200m - Deborah Kerr - 2nd in heat and progresses to semi final
K1W 200m - Emily Lewis - 5th in heat and progresses to semi final
K1M 1000m – Tom Lusty – 1st in heat, 6th in semi-final to progress B Final
C2W 500m - Afton Fitzhenry/Chloe Bracewell - 7th to progress to semi final
K1W 500m – Deborah Kerr – 2nd in heat and progresses direct to semi final
K1W 500m - Emma Russell - 7th in heat.