2016 Australian Olympian Alyce Burnett heads into a well-earned season break with a sixth placing at the inaugural ICF Canoe Sprint Super Cup in Siberia, to cap off a strong year for the Sunshine Coast paddler.
Burnett finished second in the 350 metre B-final, with only four athletes in the A final. It followed on from a bronze medal in a 600 metre Pre-Super Cup race in Linyi, China earlier in the week.
“I’m definitely more a long distance athlete than a sprinter, but I feel like I’m meant to be here now, and I can see where I need to improve,” the 2017 K1 1000 World Champion said.
Burnett reflected on a season that has seen big improvements, both personally and as a member of the Australian team.
“In terms of our team, we’ve improved a lot, and personally I’ve grown a lot as well,” she said. “I’ve focussed a lot on K1 and K4, I’m really happy with where I’m at.
“I know where I can improve, and I know where I can make those improvements in the season to come. This is my first season racing the Olympic distance K1 so I really can’t be disappointed with where I’m heading.”
Burnett, who finished seventh in both the women’s K1 500 and K4 500 at this year’s Canoe Sprint World Championships, was Australia’s only representative at the ICF Canoe Sprint Pre-Super and Super Cup.
The Super Cup, the Cup of Champions, is a new-look canoe sprint program that brought together the top local and international canoe sprint paddlers, World Champions and Olympic Champions, to compete across non-conventional distances for prize money, making for some fierce racing just four weeks after the Canoe Sprint World Championships.
Already on Friday, athletes took part in a random-draw mixed K2 and C2 race over 100 metres, with Burnett teaming up with Belarusian kayaker Aleh Yurenia.
“It’s always good to go out and do something different and racing over unconventional distances is always exciting. But this new event adds a whole new level to exciting. Being just after worlds everyone is still super fit, but no one knows what to expect with these distances,” Burnett said about the new event format.
“Plus the progression system was different to normal, so we were kept on our toes throughout. The whole event has been great, both in China and Russia. The unconventional distances and teaming up with a guy in the K2 is different, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know who will win, who trained that distance which makes it super fun. And then chuck a bit of prize money in and it’s anyone’s game.”
But the event was not all about the prize money, “the whole experience has been awesome for us athletes,” Burnett said.
“To catch up amongst us athletes and have the chance to meet each other and to become better friends has been awesome. Going into the Worlds and World Cup season next year we’ll be better for it and it brings the whole sport together. The money is an added bonus but the positivity and everything else we are getting from this far outweighs it.”
Burnett will head back to Australia now and after an emotional and challenging week that saw her dedicating her racing to her aunt, who lost her life in a car accident earlier in the week, she cannot wait to get back.
“It happened the day before the race in China and it was horrible news to get through. My mum wasn’t going to tell me but I’m glad she did. That race that I did in China was 100% for my auntie. Being on that podium, next to two of the worlds best, was an amazing feeling, and one I know she would be proud of.
“She used to hop up at ridiculous times to watch the live stream and see us race and I would always get a message from her after and she was always there in the background. Same for here, I did this all for her and I can’t wait to get home and see the rest of my family.”
About the ICF Canoe Sprint Super Cup
The new ICF Canoe Sprint Super Cup (21-22 September) featured record prize money and some of the biggest name in the sport with the aim to take the Olympic discipline to new audiences and continue its growth around the world.
The event attracted major sponsors, live television coverage, and the enthusiastic support of the paddling community with top local and international athletes competing across non-conventional distances for prize money.
At the Pre Super Cup (18 September) in Linyi, Shandong Province, China, Athletes raced 600m with prize money for the top six athletes, the winner taking home €4,000. In total €50,000 was on offer at this competition. Races were conducted for men’s and women’s C1 and K1 on the river in downtown Linyi with the finals shown live on TV in China.
For the Super Cup at the Kostenko Sports School in Barnaul, Altai Region, Russia, twelve leading Russian and international athletes battled it out over 350m in men’s and women’s canoe and kayak for the grand prize of €8,000. The top six athletes in each event took home prize money, with a total of €120,000 awarded across the competition.
In a unique feature event, male and female athletes were randomly paired to race in mixed C2 and K2 boats over the ultra short distance of 100m.
Each event featured four tough rounds of heats, quarter finals, semi finals, and A and B finals.
Athletes were invited based on recent international results in the following competitions:
- 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships
- 2017 / 2018 continental championships
- 2018 ICF canoe sprint world cups
In addition two athletes in each category were given wildcards and a further two were selected by the host organising committee.
The finals were live streamed on the ICF website and broadcast live on multiple channels including Eurosport and Match TV.