Champions At Champion Lakes For Canoe Sprint National Championships

Tom Green + Joel McKitterick Photo Susan Hughes

Champion Lakes To Host Olympic, Paralympic And Future Champions for Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint National Championships  (6-10 March 2019)

Western Australia’s Champion Lakes in Perth will see a stellar line-up of Olympic and Paralympic champions as well as Australia’s future canoe sprint champions battle it out for national titles as well as national team honours at the 2019 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint National Championships this week (6-10 March 2019).

Just over 16 months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games the National Championships have attracted over 220 athletes with the event also the final domestic national team selection event for both Olympic and Paralympic class paddlers to contest the upcoming international ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup season.

The ultimate goal for Australia’s sprint paddlers this season will be the securing of Olympic and Paralympic quota places at the season’s highlight, the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Szeged, Hungary at the end of August.

The National Championships is also the final selection event for the spots on this year’s Junior and Under 23 Teams.

Olympic champions Kenny Wallace (QLD) and Murray Stewart (NSW) as well as Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath (QLD) headline the event with Kenny Wallace aiming to return to the national team after a break from the international sprint season last year. He will be contesting the men’s K1 1000 and 500 events.

Wallace’s Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist partner Lachlan Tame (NSW) is also back on the circuit and vying for selection after an extended break post Rio. Tame will line up against Wallace in the K1 500 and will also contest the K2 500 together with London 2012 gold medallist Murray Stewart(NSW).

“I wanted to be back on the team last year but buggered my shoulder in May, which really hampered what I had planned to do. As of this point, I’m not on a team, so to me it’s just a building process. I would love to go to another Olympics but it’s more so about being fit and healthy,” the 30-year old said about the upcoming selection trials.

Tame demonstrated he is in strong form, when he had a successful come-back taking home the win in the men’s K1 200 at the Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 in Sydney in February, the event he will also contest at nationals.

Lachlan Tame - Photo JGR Images
Lachlan Tame – Photo JGR Images

While Australia’s Olympic medallists have demonstrated they are a force to be reckoned with, they will be up against a group of young guns, who are pushing to the top with exciting and tight selection racing expected.

In the K2 500 Tame and Stewart will line-up against a strong field of up and coming sprint talent, including last year’s Senior 2018 World Championships paddlers Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW) and Jordan Wood (QLD) as well as U23 World Champions Tom Green (QLD) and Joel Kitterick (QLD).

Amongst the 21-boat field are also U23 paddlers and former South African turned Aussie Junior Canoe Marathon World Champion Jean van der Westhuyzen (QLD) and Jackson Collins (QLD), who put in a strong performance at the Sprint Grand Prix 2 and took home the win and pre-selection in the U23 K2 1000.

Also in the women’s events, Australia’s sprint future is looking bright with Western Australian local Yale Steinepreis and Ella Beere (NSW) taking out the win in the U23 women’s K2 500 for pre-selection at last month’s Grand Prix 2 and with the pair aiming to impress in other classes and combinations at nationals.

Beer - Photo Rowing Celebration
Beere – Photo Rowing Celebration 

Beere, who just returned from a successful Oceania Championships in New Zealand with the women’s sprint team, is teaming up with Western Australian 2018 U23 national team paddler Shannon Reynolds in the K2 500 and together with Yale Steinepreis and Brianna Massie (QLD) will be challenging last year’s women’s K4 national team combination and World Cup medallists of Alyce Burnett (QLD), Jaime Roberts (WA), Jo Brigden-Jones (NSW) and Alyssa Bull( QLD).

WK4 - Photo Rowing Celebration
 Bull, Brigden-Jones, Roberts, Burnett –  Photo Rowing Celebration

All of Paddle Australia’s 2018 Olympic and Paralympic classes national team athletes will be contesting the event and aiming to secure their 2019 national team spots.

“There is a bit of a talent ID process happening in Australia right now, which is exciting for the future. A number of para athletes have picked the paddle for the first time and we are pretty keen to see how that develops and grows for the focus of Tokyo and beyond,” Curtis McGrath said about the growing number of para-canoe athletes with strong fields at nationals and new athletes vying for spots on the team.

McGrath - Photo JGR Images
 Curtis McGrath – Photo JGR Images

228 athletes will contest the 297 events across all age groups from as young as under 10 years old to over 65 years of age over the five-day regatta.

Racing at Champion Lakes Regatta Centre in Perth will start at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, 6 March local time and conclude at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, 10 March 2019.

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