Kimberley Woods and Joe Clarke claimed fourth-place finishes in the women’s and men’s K1 events respectively, on a pulsating second day of ICF World Cup action in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Tokyo-bound star qualified out of the semi-finals in fourth place earlier in the day, while fellow Brits Fiona Pennie and Mallory Franklin unfortunately fell short of the top ten in 29th and 30th respectively.
Kimberley was hit with a late penalty decision in the showpiece that cost her a place on the podium, but the three-time world team gold medallist was pleased with the development of her displays across the weekend.
She said: “It’s hard to be so close to the medals, but I’m happy because I know I definitely have the speed. The rest of the girls stepped it up in the final, so to be in amongst it at the end was good.
“It’s the second race I’ve done this year where a little penalty has kept me off the podium, so it’s fine margins and I know I’m close to being where I want to be.
“I felt really strong and fluid, and I felt in control in the final. I took a lot of learning out of the first day in terms of not reading too much into how my body feels, and I know that I can find a performance even when I’m not quite 100 per cent.
“You take a lot of confidence from racing and with each event you’re learning every time. I feel I’m getting more consistent and I’m on a bit of a streak getting to finals now. Hopefully I can take that forward heading towards Tokyo.”
In the men’s K1 event Chris Bowers and Bradley Forbes-Cryans narrowly missed out on a place in the final, finishing 14th and 15th respectively in the semi-final.
But a clean run in a time of 94.28s saw Joe Clarke qualify seventh, and the Olympic champion shaved just under two seconds off that time to match Woods’ fourth-place finish in the final.
“Fourth is always the toughest position because it’s just off the podium, but what I wanted to get from the event was to build through the rounds and it was good to put down a run in the final that I’m happy with,” said Joe.
“I wasn’t outside the top ten in all of the rounds which is good consistency; there were just a few mistakes that crept in that kept me out of the medal places.
“With surgery and then Covid-19 it’s been a strange 18 months or so, and having shaken a couple of niggles off recently I’m looking to nail the processes in the run up to the World Championships later this year.
“I think there’s an extra layer there for me to tap into and if I can stay injury-free for the rest of the season things are going to continue to improve.”
Clarke returned to the water on Saturday afternoon in the trial run for the men’s extreme slalom, finishing fifth and putting himself in a strong position ahead of the finals on Sunday.
In the women’s event Pennie bounced back from K1 disappointment to finish sixth, while Sophie Ogilvie ranked 15th to round off another solid day of racing from the British team.
Mark Ratcliffe, Head Coach for the canoe slalom team, was pleased with his squad’s efforts on day two in the Czech capital.
He said: “Today feels like a step on again, being so close to two medals. Kimberley’s been excellent across the event and we thought she’d done enough to make the podium, but in terms of her performance she’s really progressed from the Euros and we can see her building nicely.
“I’m really pleased to see Joe do so well, too. He obviously had a tough year last year after surgery and with no racing, so to see him building back again and be in the mix for medals is great.
“It’s a really technical venue in Prague and unfortunately Fiona and Mallory came unstuck, but Chris and Bradley were both unlucky to miss out on the final and overall it was a really pleasing team performance in the kayak.
“There were some really good signs at the Euros but that consistency and delivery in finals comes from doing more races, and you could see that starting to happen today. That bodes well now for the rest of the season.
“It’s been brilliant to be back out on the World Cup circuit so far. We’re quite a close sport and everyone knows each other, so it’s been great to be back out there together, and the athletes definitely need that competitive action.”
Six of the nine-strong British canoe slalom team are set to feature on Sunday, amidst a feast of C1 and extreme slalom action. The racing gets underway at 0800 and can be followed on the below links:
Schedule for Sunday 13 June
Women’s C1 semi-finals
0814 Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats)
0858 Mallory Franklin (Windsor)
Men’s C1 semi-finals
0921 Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone)
0943 David Florence (Lloyds Register)
1033 Women’s C1 final
11:10 Men’s C1 final
Women’s extreme slalom
Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) and Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) - heats from 1345
Men’s extreme slalom
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - heats from 1417
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - 4th in the semi-final 104.89 and 4th in the final 102.92
Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) - 29th in the semi-final 178.69
Mallory Franklin (Windsor) - 30th in the semi-final 371.68
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - 7th in the semi-final 94.28 and 4th in the final 92.54
Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) - 14th in the semi-final 96.21
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) - 15th in the semi-final 96.51
Women’s extreme slalom
Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) - 6th in the trial run 76.73
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) - 15th in the trial run 79.96
Men’s extreme slalom
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - 5th in the trial run 70.28
Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) - DNS