Racing has kicked off at the 2018 Oceania Championships Grand Prix 2 (9-11 February 2018) with Australia’s best Olympic and Paralympic sprint paddlers lining up at the start line in hot and humid conditions at Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith.
Heats were scheduled for the first day of competition with the regatta considered a pre-selection event for all Australian Olympic class paddlers.
“The main goal here is to get invited to the selection event (4-5 March 2018) and if I managed to get into the top four in all of the races I do here, I will be happy,” Olympian and 2017 K4 World Champion Jordan Wood (QLD) said about the tasks ahead.
It is a hot field in the men’s classes and Olympic and World Champions Kenny Wallace (QLD) and Murray Stewart (NSW) kicked-off the day with a win in the men’s K2 1000m clocking 3:21.23. Heat two was won by their 2017 K4 World Champion partners Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW) and Jordan Wood (QLD) in almost the exact same time (3:21.26) with a show-down expected in Saturday’s (10 February) final.
“The races went pretty good and I had quite consistent results throughout the day and hoping to build on them tomorrow,” Wood said, who also won both his heat and semi-final in the MK1 1000m.
In the women’s K2 500m Olympians Alyce Burnett (QLD) and Alyssa Bull (QLD) won the first heat and went straight through to the final with Olympian Cat McArthur (SA) and Jaime Roberts (WA) following suit in heat two in a tight race with Manon Jostens and Lea Jamelot from France.
“We had to go out there and go through the processes and taking the win was an important mental step, but it’s definitely going to be hot on the final tomorrow,” Cat McArthur said.
“We’ve got some girls here with some really good speed and we’ve got a strong, cohesive group, which is really exciting at this stage of the Olympic cycle,” McArthur added.
In the Paralympic classes Paralympian and Australian Canoeing’s Junior athlete of the year Dylan Littlehales (NSW) created waves, when he led over Paralympic Champion and dual 2017 World Champion Curtis McGrath (QLD) in the men’s K1 200 races for lanes. Finals are scheduled for Saturday and include British Para-Canoeist Tim Lodge, who has been enjoying the opportunity to train and race in Australian summer.
“I arrived two weeks ago and have been training with the Paracanoe Team at the Gold Coast, which has been great. Especially by this time of the year back home we really get a bit sick and tired of the cold weather, so it’s great to be in warm weather, but it’s also nice to get a nice change of scenery,” Lodge said.
“Everybody has been really helpful and I’ve really enjoyed the Australian hospitality. We’re looking forward to returning some of this when the Australian Paracanoe Team comes over in May to race at the World Cup,” Lodge added.
The Oceania Championships Grand Prix 2 has attracted 148 athletes competing in 89 events across the Olympic and Paralympic classes and Open, under 18 and under 16 age groups. It is the first big hit-out of the 2018 international season, including competitors from New Zealand’s, France, Great Britain, South Africa, Denmark and Tahiti.
For Australia’s Olympic sprint paddlers the event is the final opportunity to secure an invitation to the 2018 national team selection trials to be held at Sydney International Regatta Centre (SIRC) 4 – 5 March 2018. Paralympic selections will take place at the Australian Canoeing Championships at SIRC from 6-10 March 2018.
Racing will continue on Saturday, 10 February and Sunday, 11 February 2018 with finals, semi-finals and finals.
See Friday’s results here: http://regattas.canoe.org.au/?regatta;file=754
The draw can be accessed here: http://regattas.canoe.org.au/?draw=1149
Live results can be followed here: http://regattas.canoe.org.au/?live=1149
Follow results on your mobile here: http://m.regattas.canoe.org.au/?mobile;regatta=1149