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Kristina Armstrong secures a place in final of the ECA Junior & U23 European Canoe Sprint Champs

Philip Miles and Kristina Armstrong tactically battled their way to success on day three of the Junior and U23 European Canoe Sprint Championships in Belgrade.

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Miles (Royal Leamington Spa) produced a strong performance to see him clinch victory in the men's K1 Under-23 1000m B final with a new personal best time.

The paddler beat Lithuania's Tomas Jusevicius by over a second to claim the win and thanked his change in race strategy for his speed.

He said: "Going into it I knew that I was pretty much the fastest qualifier so I altered my race plan just a little bit. I tried to stay towards the front of the pack for a fair bit of the race, which is a little bit different to how I raced the semi-final.

“Going into it I was pretty confident in my ability to win and really pleased with the execution and I ended up with a personal best as well.

"I rely on my fitness and that normally means I have quite a strong second half of the race, but what I wanted to do was use the opportunity to try and go a bit faster in the first half and it worked quite well."

Miles owned his new strategy with confidence and shaved over half a second off his previous personal best.

The Royal Leamington Spa paddler goes in the A final of the K1 500m on Sunday and, although he has little expectations, will still be looking to carry on his fine form ahead of selection for the Under-23 World Championships in Nottingham next weekend.

He added: "I haven't raced K1 Under-23 or internationally for a while now so it's really useful to get some learnings from it and I think after each round I've learnt something new. Hopefully going forwards it will help me identify areas that I need to improve on.

"I'm feeling good and positive, I didn't really set massively high expectations for myself coming into the competition - I just wanted to deliver my best performances."

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On the junior circuit, 17-year-old Armstrong (Linlithgow) impressed with her semi-final performance to qualify for the women's K1 junior 200m A final.

After improving her start with coaches in the morning, her tactics paid off with a third-place effort she's more than proud of.

She said: "It was a really good race and it all went to plan. After my heat I was feeling a lot more confident.

"Beforehand I had no idea about the competition and I was just going in blind and expecting anything. But I knew where I was after the heats and I was feeling confident about the semis.

"We had been looking at my race plan and areas to improve and we had been looking at the start and thinking 'how can we make this better?’."

Armstrong revelled in the competitive but friendly nature of the competition as she continues to add to her international experience on every level.

She said: "I was speaking to some of the other countries, and it was nice to see how they were feeling, we're all the same, we're all excited and a little bit nervous.

"It's great to have this opportunity to experience it at this age and just to see everyone walking around, doing the exact same as you, they're feeling how you're feeling. And hopefully in years to come it will be them that I will be racing."

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In the men's K1 junior 200m, Benjamin Cabrera (Fowey) qualified for Sunday’s B final with a sixth-place finish.

Cabrera battled against hardening conditions as the competition was stalled several races later due to a thunderstorm, but still managed to better his heat time by over a second.

Once the storm clouds had subsided, Florence Duffield (Norwich) took to the water in the women's K1 Under-23 200m. She crossed the line in fourth place and was edged out of a final spot by half a second in a strong semi-final performance.

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Men's K1 U23 1000m B Final Philip Miles (Royal Leamington Spa) - 1st

Men's K1 Junior 200m Semi-final Benjamin Cabrera (Fowey) - 6th and progresses to B final

Women's K1 Junior 200m Semi-final Kristina Armstrong (Linlithgow) - 3rd and progresses to A final

Women's K1 U23 Semi-final Florence Duffield (Norwich) - 4th


Sunday's Schedule:

8.05 K1 Junior Men 500m B Final - Dylan O'Connor

9.14 K1 U23 Men 500m A Final - Philip Miles

9.26 K1 U23 Women 500m A Final - Emma Russel

10.10 K1 Junior Women 500m B Final - Honor Lewis

10.20 K2 Junior Men 500m B Final - Benjamin Cabrera/Dominic Stanley

10.25 K2 U23 Men 500m B Final - Ieuan James/Daniel Atkins

14.10 K1 Junior Men 200m B Final - Benjamin Cabrera

15.01 K1 Junior Women 200m A Final - Kristina Armstrong