2019 Canoe Slalom Senior National Championships kick-off Olympic Qualifying Season

Tasmanian National team paddlers going for national honours on home course

Australia’s aspiring Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games canoe slalom paddlers will kick-off the Olympic qualifying season at the 2019 Canoe Slalom Senior National Championships this weekend.

The National Slalom Championships will take place over the next four days 10 – 13 January at Brady Lake Whitewater Course in Tasmania with close to 60 athletes from across Australia competing for National Championship honours.

18 months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Australia’s top canoe slalom paddlers will contest the National Championships ahead of their selection events in February when Australia’s top paddlers will take on the best of the world at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival (14 – 24 February 2019) with the event at Penrith Whitewater Stadium including the selection relevant Australian Open as well as the Oceania Championships. 2019 is the Olympic qualifying season with the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in La Seu d’Urgell, Spain to decide the national quota places for Tokyo 2020.

Paddle Australia’s canoe slalom star, dual Olympic medallist and 2018 dual World Champion Jessica Fox will be at the start line at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival in February, but will not contest this weekend’s National Championships in order to focus on training for a long international season ahead and after spending an extended period out of the boat at the end of last year following a surgery in October.

But with all other 2018 Paddle Australia national team slalom paddlers contesting the event, competition will be tight on the challenging course and local Tasmanian national team paddler Kate Eckhardt is looking forward to racing on her home course.

“It’s super special to have the nationals at home. Brady’s is a very unique, exciting and world class course and it’s exciting to have the nationals back here,” Eckhardt said.

“I have definitely spent more time on the water here than all the other girls competing which will be a bit of an advantage knowing almost every wave, but the competition is still going to be super tight I’m sure.

“I’m really just hoping to get some good runs together on this challenging water. It’s always hard to keep on top of your run here when the water is pushing and moving you faster than almost any other race course in the world! I’m excited to see who can post the fastest times of course and I’m going to push to have my name up there,” the confident 21-year added.

Eckhardt had one of her best seasons yet in 2018 making her first Senior World Championships semi-final in the K1 and is looking forward to an exciting season ahead.

“The season ahead is going to be tough, the selection races will be hard with close competition. I’m going to be working hard towards the senior team in both classes (K1 and C1) as I have been in the past few years so to race at the world champs in Seu. The Olympic selection is getting close but to be honest I haven’t thought about it too much, I’m just working hard to get fit and strong for the national team selections in February.”

Fellow Tasmanian national team paddler Daniel Watkins, who also made his first Senior World Championships semifinals in both the K1 and C1 in 2018, will contest the nationals in both the men’s K1 and C1 as well.

Teams races will take place at Brady’s this afternoon, before the individual events start from tomorrow, Friday, 11 January 2019.

For Paddle Australia’s Under 18 paddlers, the Senior National Championships at Brady’s Lake are a selection relevant event for the 2019 Paddle Australia National Junior Slalom team and the chance to represent Australia at the ICF Junior Canoe Slalom World Championships in Poland in July 2019. In addition, the Junior selection process includes the Australian Open (14-17 February, Penrith, NSW) as well as the Oceania Championships (21-24 February, Penrith, NSW).

The Paddle Australia national canoe slalom season continues next weekend with the Junior and Masters National Championships at Eildon, Victoria (18 – 20 January 2019), before Sydney will be hosting the world’s best canoe slalom paddlers for the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival in February.

For further information on the 2019 Canoe Slalom Senior Nationals, race schedule and start lists please see event website here: https://slalom.paddle.org.au/.

Athlete profiles of all current Australian slalom teams can also be found at Paddle Australia’s website: http://paddle.org.au/canoe-slalom-athlete-profiles/

This event is hosted by Paddle Tasmania and Derwent Canoe Club. The event is supported by Hydro Tasmania, Tasmanian State Government, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Services and the Tasmanian Institute of Sport.

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