Australian paddler Alexandria Choate has fought her way through tears and personal distress to deliver the race of her life to qualify for the C1 semi-finals at the ICF Canoe Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships in Bratislava.
Just minutes before the Perth 16-year-old took to the water, she received a text message telling her a school friend had been killed in a car accident back in Australia.
The news floored her, but fighting back tears she went back out on to the water, determined to finish the job she had started.
“My friend just died today, so I was paddling for him,” Choate said after the race.
“He was a primary school friend, so for all those back home, please remember him well. I dedicated this run to him, so while I was paddling, it was all for him.
Choate had struggled with her first run on the difficult Bratislava course, picking up two missed gate penalties which meant she needed a second run to try and make the semi-finals.
“I was really exhausted after my first run, but at the same time there’s a bit of excitement knowing you get some more time on the water, you get to get back in your boat, go out there and do the best you can,” she said.
“In my boat at the end of my first run I was very disappointed and annoyed with myself, but I knew I had to get back up and try again.
“I think I’m still a bit in everywhere zone, so I’m not quite aware of anything. I’m really happy that I was able to do it, thanks to everyone who has been cheering and helping me along, especially today.”
There were mixed results for the Australians on Wednesday. In the U23 category, Jessica and Noemie Fox and Kate Eckhardt all made it safely through to the semi-finals of the women’s C1.
In the men’s K1, Benjamin Pope and Angus Thompson are both through to Friday’s semis, but Timothy Anderson just fell short.
In the juniors, Louis Richardson made it through to the semis of the K1 after a solid second run, but Cameron McLaughlan missed out.
And Billie Knell battled strongly but missed the semi-finals of the juniors C1.