Out West Dreams Come True For Australia’s Up And Coming Paddle Talent
New South Wales’ Olympic sprint paddlers were on fire on the final day of the 2019 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint National Championships, wrapping up the five-regatta with a win in the women’s and men’s K4 Interstate events and taking home the Helen Brownlee Cup in the women’s K4 500 as well as the Dennis Green Cup in the men’s K4 500. New South Wales’Sydney Northern Beaches Kayak Club added to the overall NSW success by winning the Paddle Australia National Club Championships trophy as the most successful club.
It was the K4 team boats that dominated the final day of the national championships with the state vs state races concluding a week of exciting racing for national titles and national team selection with teams to be announced later next week.
In a nail-biting wrap of the day, New South Wales’ team of up and coming U23 paddlers Ella Beere, Keily Dober, London 2012 Olympian and 15-time national team paddlerJo Brigden-Jones as well as Junior paddler Kailey Harlen proved to be the winning combination in the interstate women’s K4 500 taking out the penultimate race of the regatta in a time of 1:32.7. Queensland and Western Australia finished second and third with all three boats crossing the finish line within +0.80 seconds.
Only +0.40 separated first from second place with Queensland combination of Olympians Alyssa Bull and Alyce Burnett and last year’s U23 team paddler Brianna Massie and Lucinda Kelly finishing second.
Host state Western Australia with national team paddler Jaime Roberts, Shannon Reynolds, Yale Steinepreis and Yasemin Ray finished third, only another +0.40 seconds behind.
“It was such a close finish, probably one of the closest finishes of the regatta. It was really exciting to have Jo (Brigden-Jones) lead us along, the mother duck, we just followed her and tried to stay in time,” Ella Beer said about the successful combination of younger and older paddlers, with Brigden-Jones ten years her senior.
While the interstate race was not a selection relevant event, the fight in state colours was fun and fierce.
“Jumping in with these girls is pretty fun and it mixes the crews up a bit so it’s an unknown field. We had an awesome start and I felt heaps of great power from these girls behind me. It’s pretty cool that us girls from Narrabeen, who have never been in the K4 together came out and won that race and we are all pretty stoked. NSW at the World Champs,“ Jo Brigden-Jones laughed.
The interstate events wrapped up an intense week of racing for national titles and national team selection with the youngster in the K4, Kailey Harlen, one of the stand-out paddlers of the regatta. Harlen won all of her five under 18 kayaking events and also made it through to the open women’s K1 500 A final. But it was the last race that left a big impression on her.
“I’m just stoked. I don’t even know what to think especially with that last race. We are all from Narrabeen, we all train together all the time and to finish off the whole regatta, the whole domestic year with these kinds of girls and this whole team is a good way to finish,” Harlen said.
“I was in the back of the boat and happy to be there to see the other girls in front, just learning. It’s all a bit learning curve for me and just having such experienced people such as Jo (Brigden-Jones), she has been to the Olympics, she knows what she’s doing, she has been in the senior K4, she has a lot of experience and just to be paddling with her is a dream come true.”
About the goals ahead the 17-year old paddler added, “This year I have year 12, so I’m going to be battling that and just even racing with these senior girls has given me kind of an idea where I’m at but my main goal is to go to Junior Worlds and there to do as well as I can. Making the A final would be ideal and hopefully, maybe I can make the podium. But I got a lot of time to experiment and a lot of things to work on.”
New South Wales made it an Interstate double win, when the men followed suit and won the last race of the regatta, the men’s state vs state K 4 500.
With an impressive line-up of London 2012 Olympic Champion Murray Stewart, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Lachlan Tame and Rio Olympian Riley Fitzsimmons, plus Jakob Hammond, the NSW crew took home the win in a time of 1:20.08.
Only +0.94 seconds behind, the equally impressive Queensland combination of Olympic champion Kenny Wallace, Rio Olympian Jordan Wood, who teamed up with U23 World Champions Joel McKitterick and Tom Green. South Australians Chris Kither, Matt Goble, Jayden Ellis and Reece Bacchus finished third.
“We started this event a few years ago and it wasn’t that serious but now it is being an Olympic class event and we always love to represent NSW and get a win in for us,” Riley Fitzsimmons said.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s the end of the regatta and there was a lot more enjoyment in that race and I was pretty excited to go and do it. And as Riley said, it’s not too serious, but there are bragging rights on the line and it’s a lot of fun and a good way to finish the regatta,” Murray Stewart agreed.
Coming second in the Queensland boat, Olympic champion Kenny Wallace celebrated his 20thnational championships, enjoying the hit-out with the youngsters on his state team.
“This was my 20thnational championships racing. My first one was back in 1999, so it’s been 20 years of finals racing. It originally started off as just a fun race at the end of the regatta and we throw a couple of young kids in there as well but these days it’s starting to get tougher and tougher and yes there are bragging rights but it is a full-on race now,” Wallace said.
“Everyone compared to me is younger these days and I was very happy to race with Joel McKitterick, Tom Green and Jordan Wood in the boat,” 35-year old Kenny Wallace laughed.
“They are three of the nicest guys and they can paddle really fast as well. They have such a great opportunity to do great things in the future the three of them along with the rest of the Australian team and it’s exciting leading into Tokyo and even into Paris 2024. The young ones are stepping up now to do some great things,” Wallace said about the up and coming talent on the team.
The interstate race wrapped up a successful day and regatta for both Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood, who had started the day with a win in the men’s K2 500 (1:29.85), backing up their men’s K2 1000 win a couple of days ago. Jackson Collins (QLD) and Jean Westhuyzen finished second in men’s K2 500, with Lachlan Tame and Murray Stewart following in third.
Fitzsimmons and Jordan also won the men’s K4 500 earlier in the day together with Western Australian Olympian Jesse Phillips and Australian national team marathon paddler Josh Kippin (WA).
Wood + Fitzsimmons – Photo Susan Hughes
The youngster on the men’s squad, 19-year old Tom Green already set a mark on Saturday, after adding the win in the men’s K1 1000 to his first place in the men’s K1 500 earlier in the week.
The under 18 interstate events were won by NSW team of Jarrah Sheppard, Tinus Koekemoer,Toby Schooley and Eli Newton in the men’s K4 500 18, while the women’s 18 event was won by Queensland’s Alicia Fay, Phoebe Grace-Wills, Jenaya Massie and Chaise Richardson.
Tinus Koekemoer and Jarrah Sheppard also won the men’s K4 500 18 together with Carter Brodhurst-Hill (QLD) and Kobe Wilson (WA).
The 16 and under K4 500 event was won by New South Welshmen Toby Schooley, Matthew Dunbar, Tobias Grigg and Ashby Allen.
In the open women, selectors made the most of the opportunity to test a few combinations on the last day of racing with Cat McArthur (SA), Jaime Roberts and Alyce Burnett and Alyssa Bull, finishing +2.23 seconds ahead of Ella Beere, Jo Brigden-Jones, Shannon Reynolds and Kailey Harlen.
Paddlers of all ages took to the water on the final day of the national championships with the youngest paddler in the ‘Guppy’ races Rachel Campbell only eight-years of age, while the oldest masters paddler Johan Dreyer (WA) raced at 72 years of age.
Sydney Northern Beaches topped the Paddle Australia National Club Championships ranking with 766.50 points ahead of Western Australia’s Ascot Kayak Club in second (755.75) and with South Australia’s West Lakes Canoe Club in third (709.75).
Former Australian wildwater national team paddler Robert McIntyre was awarded the Raj Award, which is given to a person who demonstrated good attitude to other paddlers, officials and coaches.. McIntyre received the award for rescuing a capsized paracanoe athlete at the regatta.
Western Australia’s Champion Lakes in Perth hosted a stellar line-up of current Olympic and Paralympic champions as well as Australia’s future canoe sprint champions over the five-day national championships event (6-10 March 2019).
See all results HERE.
Search by athlete or event: https://regattas.paddle.org.au/regattas/1164/results
16 months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games the National Championships 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 securing of Olympic and Paralympic quota places at the international season’s highlight, the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Szeged, Hungary at the end of August.
All of Paddle Australia’s 2018 Olympic and Paralympic classes national team athletes contested the event. The National Championships were also the final selection event for the spots on this year’s Junior and Under 23 Teams with all national teams expected to be announced at the end of next weeks.
See mobile live results here: http://bit.ly/SprintNationalsResults19
For more event information see here: https://sprint.paddle.org.au/nationals/