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Lee Valley sees slalom athletes return for senior selections

The first day of the 2021 Senior Canoe Slalom & Extreme Slalom Selection saw paddlers return for competition at a rainy Lee Valley White Water Centre in search of a place on the senior slalom team for the remainder of the season.

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With two boats in each class already confirmed due to Olympic selection and Olympic reserves, it is the third boats that are up for grabs this weekend, with Britain’s best slalom athletes in search of a spot for the upcoming World Cups and World Championships.

The selection is a four-race format, with athletes required to put down two runs on each day across the weekend, their top three counting towards selection.

Fresh from winning a historic silver medal in the women’s C1 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games less than two weeks ago, Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) was back on home waters in the hunt for a women’s K1 spot, with her C1 place already secure.

She displayed her trademark speed once again to put down two strong runs during the day to finish top of both heats, her faster time being 100.56. Kimberley Woods (Rugby) already has her place secured due to her spot on this year’s Olympic team, as does Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) who was the reserve for Tokyo.

Amber Maslen (Independent) and Megan Hamer-Evans (Seren Dŵr) too showed strong performances on day one, taking a second and a third place each going into the second day on Sunday.

2021 U23 World Championships bronze medallist Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) and Ben Haylett (Holme Pierrepont) both battled at the top of their event as they claimed a victory each as they challenge for the final spot in the men’s K1.  

With Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) and Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) already pre-selected, Chris continued his early season form to put down the fastest time of the day, posting a clean 89.49. Quick times from Stuart Gerrie (Aberdeen KC) and David Paterson (Manchester CC) earnt the pair a third place finish each going into the next day of racing.

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Despite being pre-selected alongside Tokyo Olympian Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone), David Florence (Lloyds Register) showed the speed that won him a World Cup silver earlier this season, as he delivered strong wins in both of Saturday’s runs.

His quicker time of 96.69 in run one saw him finish ahead of 2018 European Champion Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe CC) in second and James Kettle (Lee Valley) in third, whilst the three time Olympic silver medallist then went onto take the victory again an hour and a half later ahead of Peter Linksted (Independent) and Will Coney (Seren Dŵr).

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Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley) put down an emphatic run in the women’s C1 to storm to victory in run one. Her clean time of 107.83 was over eight seconds quicker than Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) in second, with Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan CC) claiming a third place. 

Bethan then went on to finish second in the second run with Ellis Miller (Lee Valley) finishing top of this heat with a clean run of 104.09.

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There are also places up for grabs in the men’s and women’s extreme slalom events, with one run a day per athlete taking place. Anton Lippek topped the men’s race with a 52.16 whilst Jazz Royle delivered a 57.46 in round one of the women’s event.

The action continues again tomorrow with two further runs taking place for all athletes vying for those senior spots for the remaining two months of the season.

For results across the weekend, click here