Great Britain's four canoe polo teams were all in action on day 1 of the 2021 ECA Canoe Polo European Championships in Catania, Italy.
The Championships had been delayed by a day, following a tornado hitting the event on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite the serious damage caused to the venue, the organising committee, local volunteers and the participating teams came together to rebuild and ensure that the Championships were able to start today.
Speaking ahead of the tournament GB Team Leader Bee Fox said:
“We are just super happy to be here with everything that has gone on with the weather in the last 48 hours, so it’s great to be here and see people on the water.”
The full interview is available on the Canoe Polo UK Facebook page.
First in action were the GB under 21 women’s team that won the silver medal in 2019. They started their group matches with a 4-1 victory against Spain.
Sara Lanao-Madden opened the scoring, followed up with a brace from Katie Howes before Spain replied just before half-time to make it 3-1.
In a tight second half Katie Howes completed a hat-trick with less then three minutes to go, to give the GB team a comfortable opening win.
Katie Howes in action against Spain - Photo by Hans Janssen (Hans Canoe Polo Photography)
In a pulsating second match Katie Howes was on the scoresheet again with Katie Farley as Britain took a 2-1 lead over Poland at half time.
With Poland equalising, Katie Farley stepped up to complete her hat-trick and claim the second victory of the day by 4-2.
In the final match of the day against France, Katie Farley put the British team ahead with an early goal, before the French struck back with two goals to take the lead. A first goal of the tournament for Jessica Webb levelled the scores at half-time.
But the French team took the lead in the second half, and another goal in the final minute confirmed the first defeat for the British team, with France taking the victory 4-2.
With two wins out of three, coaches Alan Vessey and Caitlin Fox will be pleased with how well the team gelled, despite having limited playing time together over the last 18 months.
The under 21 women have three more group matches tomorrow against the Netherlands, Italy and Germany, in order to decide the final placings. One victory will ensure a semi-final berth.
Half of the under 21 men’s team are representatives of the Belfast Kayak Academy. The team have come on in leaps and bounds since 2019, and started their campaign strongly against Poland.
Caleb Bowden opened the scoring, before Poland replied. But with Daragh McConvey and Angus Boyle adding goals Britain were in the lead 3-2 at half time.
In the second half goals from Daragh and Fergal McConvey saw the under 21 men stretch their lead, but a strong fightback by the Poles, including an equaliser with six seconds to go saw the teams draw an enthralling match 5-5.
In the second match of the day Caleb Bowden scored at the end of the first half against Italy, to make the score 1-1 at half-time.
But the hosts, who earlier beat Poland in the group, went 2-1 in front and when Santanam McCutcheon received a red card for obstruction with five minutes to go the GB team were up against it. Ben Muller scored with three minutes to go, but the Italians claimed a 4-2 victory.
A draw and a defeat means the British team finished in third place in the group and so cannot progress to the medal stages of the Championships.
Following recent medal success, including gold at the 2019 European Championships, the senior women’s team are now developing a new team coached by Leighton James and Lee Busby, with four players making their championship debut.
In their first match in Group A they were defeated 4-1 by Spain, with captain Nicole Hudson scoring first to take the lead. But a strong performance by Spain in the second half saw them claim the victory.
In the second match Poland went into a 3-1 lead, with Lucy Boyce scoring, But a second goal on the stroke of half-time from Eleanor McBay gave the GB team hope.
But despite a valiant effort by the team, a goalless second half saw Poland take the 3-2 victory and confirm a second defeat for the women’s team.
The senior men won the silver medal at the 2019 European Championships. Their opening fixture in Group B was against the Netherlands. Despite being 1-0 down at half time, goals from Alex Lowthorpe and captain Suryan McCutcheon looked to have secured a draw.
But a goal by the Netherlands in the last seconds of the match denied the British men, with the final score 3-2. Despite the disappointing result the team will regroup and look to bounce back against Spain tomorrow morning, in a must win game to stay in medal contention.
Day 1 Results
Senior Men - Group MB
Great Britain 2-3 Netherlands
Senior Women - Group WA
Great Britain 1-4 Spain
Great Britain 2-3 Poland
Under 21 Men - Group MUB
Poland 5-5 Great Britain
Italy 4-2 Great Britain
Under 21 Women - Group WUA
Great Britain 4-1 Spain
Great Britain 4-2 Poland
Great Britain 2-4 France
You can follow all of the action, including streaming and a results service at:
You can find out more about the Canoe Polo GB teams at:
Find out more about Canoe Polo - the team kayaking sport, at the British Canoe Polo website: