Blanch leads strong Australian effort on day one at World Marathon titles

Australia has made a positive start to the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, headed by 18-year-old Erin Blanch in the junior women’s K1.

Blanch turned in a career-best performance to finish fifth in the 19-kilometre event, contested in scorching hot conditions in South Africa.

“It was very hard and very hot, but it was so much fun,” the Queenslander said after her race.

“I had a great experience and learned heaps. I would have been happy with top ten to be honest.

“I felt really comfortable on the wash out the back, I was just trying to save my energy because I knew I might not be as strong as the other girls. I just thought if I raced smart I could hang on to them.”

In the men’s K1 junior Daniel Mole finished eighth and Mitchell Cronin 10th.

“Grinding through that heat was a real struggle, but it was good to get through it and we had a great end sprint, so I was really stoked with those efforts,” Mole said.

“To be able to hook on to that front pack for the first lap, it boosts your confidence something chronic.

“You come away from a race like this and you think ‘I’ve just raced the best in the world’. You feel like Superman. You feel like you can do anything.”

Cronin said he had learned or lot from the race.

“It’s kill or be killed, it’s pretty brutal out there,” Cronin said.

“You’ve just got to hold your line and be tough, really tough.

“We weren’t too far off it at the end, so that’s a good eye opener. Anything can happen from here on in, the sky’s the limit.”

Mole and Cronin will team up for the junior K2 on Friday evening, Australian time.

Isabel Neilson finished 10th and Matilda Stevenson 11th in the women’s K1 U23, on a day when Hungary won every gold medal on offer.

Six Australian boats will be in action on Friday.

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