Blend Of Youth And Experience To Lead Charge Into 2019 International Canoe Sprint Season

A powerful blend of youth and experience will be leading the charge going into the 2019 Canoe Sprint Olympic qualification season with Paddle Australia announcing its 17-strong 2019 Canoe Sprint World Cup Squad today.

The national team announcement follows the conclusion of the national championships and selection trials last weekend and also includes the selection of the U23 and Junior Teams to contest the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint Junior & U23 World Championships in Pitesti, Romania in August (1-4 August 2019). The Paracanoe Team was already announced yesterday: https://paddle.org.au/2019/03/14/paracanoe-team-on-track-for-tokyo-2020/

With less than 500 days to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Australia’s canoe sprint paddlers are looking strong with a number of up and coming talent surging to the top and setting their mark at the recent selection trials.

In the men’s team, 19-year old Tom Green (QLD) returns into his second senior team, while it will be the first for 20-year old former AFL player and surf ski paddler Jackson Collins (QLD), who is the son of four-time Olympian and dual Olympic medallist Daniel Collins and only switched to kayaking last year. It will also be the first Senior team for 20-year old former South African Junior marathon world champion Jean van der Westhuyzen (QLD), with all three paddlers also selected to race at this year’s U23 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.

Joel McKitterick, Tom Green, Riley Fitzsimmons, Jackson Collins, Jean van der Westhuyzen

They will join the Senior World Cup Squad with Rio Olympian Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW), who with his previous Olympic and World Championships experience, at the age of 22 is already regarded as one of the veterans on the team and will race both senior and U23 events.

24-year old Rio Olympian Jordan Wood (QLD), 2018 U23 World Champion Joel McKitterick (QLD) and former World Championships paddler Matt Goble (SA) join Rio Olympic bronze medallist Lachlan Tame (NSW) as well as London 2012 Olympic champion Murray Stewart (NSW), who add additional experience to the team.

The mix of youth and experience will be similar in the women’s team, with London Olympian Jo Brigden-Jones (NSW) bringing 16 years of national team paddling experience to the team, while 20-year old Ella Beere (NSW) will be on her first senior squad.

2018 World Championships paddlers Cat McArthur (SA) and Jaime Roberts (WA) as well as Rio Olympians Alyce Burnett (QLD) and Alyssa Bull (QLD) all return to the team for 2019 with the aim to secure Olympic quota spots for Australia this year.

McArthur, Roberts, Burnett, Bull - Photo John O'Sullivan

Cat McArthur, Jaime Roberts, Alyce Burnett, Alyssa Bull – Photo John O’Sullivan

Men’s Squad – Change of the guard 
Paddle Australia’s youngster Tom Green (QLD) was one of the outstanding paddlers at this year’s national championships with the 19-year old taking home the win in the men’s K1 500 as well as men’s K1 1000 and securing automatic selection to the team. Together with his 2018 U23 World Champion K2 1000 partner Joel McKitterick (QLD), he also finished second in the men’s K2 1000 and is aiming for more.

“The goal for me this year is to get that K1 1000 spot and to try and push up in that and if all goes to plan, make the A final at World Cups and maybe even World Champs. I also want to get that K2 1000 going as well together with Joel (McKitterick) and the K4 500 to try and make A finals in every event,” the confident 19-year old said.

Green, McKitterick - Photo John O'Sullivan

 Tom Green, Joel McKitterick (Photo John O’Sullivan)

Green surged on to the international scene last year, making the A final at his first Senior World Championships in the men’s K1 500 and finishing fourth in the men’s K4 500 together with Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood as well as Murray Stewart
 
Rio Olympians Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood convinced in both the men’s K2 1000 and 500 at nationals and while final crew compositions are yet to be decided, the pair has their eyes set on the K2. 
 
“I’m pretty sure our results at nationals mean that we will get to race the K2 at worlds but nothing is set in concrete, crews can change, especially regarding the K4. But I would like to race the K2 100% at worlds because I got a lot of faith in what we’ve done and the road we are on now and hopefully come Tokyo,” Jordan Wood said. 
 
“I’m looking forward to a couple of good hit outs at World Cups as well to try a few different things in our race and to get that all important race experience. The more races you do the more experience you get. No amount of training can substitute that and I’m really looking forward to it,” Wood added about the international season ahead. 

Wood - Fitzsimmons - Photo Susan Hughes

 Jordan Wood + Riley Fitzsimmons (left to right, Photo Susan Hughes) Back: Murray Stewart + Lachlan Tame

The national championships showed the depth of Australia’s sprint kayaking at the moment, with the youngsters pushing hard. 
 
“It’s been amazing this year. Woody (Jordan Wood) and I have been experiencing the depth of Australian kayaking getting more and more quality crews together and those finals at nationals displayed that. We were pushed all the way to the end,” Fitzsimmons said about the calibre of the racing at nationals. 
 
“To be able to go back overseas again is a fabulous achievement for us. We were able to race the K2 1000 at World Champs last year and we got a fourth place there and we are really wanting to improve on that result and put ourselves on the podium and obviously qualify some spots for Australia for the Olympics so there are exciting times ahead,” Fitzsimmons added. 

Fitzsimmons - Wood - Photo Zsuzsanna VekassyWith this year’s team an exciting blend of youth and experience, a change of the guard is underway with the next generation of strong paddlers pushing through. They will be joined by ‘paddling veterans’ and Olympic medallists Murray Stewart and Lachlan Tame, with the latter successfully returning to the team after an extended break due to injury post Rio. 
 
“I guess it’s a bit of a changing of the guard. We lost some of the veterans and stars of the sport after Rio and Kenny (Wallace) is still paddling fairly well and I’m hoping he’ll keep pushing to Tokyo. Lachlan only just got back from an injury and has been paddling really well over the 200m distance. As young guys we are still always trying to chase those older guys and achieve what they have achieved already in our sport. They are legends and we’ve looked up to those guys and we are trying really to emulate what they’ve done in our sport,” Fitzsimmons described the power of the current mix of athletes. 
 
While Olympic champion and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Kenny Wallace (QLD) did not make the team this year, following reduced training after the birth of his third child and baby girl a couple of months ago, he is keeping his options still open and is excited about the current team. 
 Kenny Wallace - Photo Susan HughesKenny Wallace (photo Susan Hughes) “I just raced my 20thnationals and everyone compared to me is younger these days so it is a little bit a change of the guard. I raced with Joel McKitterick, Tom Green and Jordan Wood at the nationals and they have such a great opportunity to do great things in the future along with the rest of the Australian team and the teams that will go overseas this year. It’s exciting leading into Tokyo and even into Paris 2024. They are stepping up now to do some great things I think,” Wallace said about this year’s team. 
 
“Tom Green and his racing in the K1 is something special and you can see something special happening next year and in the next quad. He’s got that X factor and the best part is probably, he’s hungry, he’s got that drive to succeed and I’m picking great things for him, along with the other young guys on the team. You have Jackson Collins now, he’s a big boy, but he’s only young. And we’ve got Jean, over from South Africa, who technically wise is a superb paddler and then you got Riz and Woody, who we used to think were the youngest guys on the team, but now they are some of the more senior guys on the team. 
Tom Green - Photo Zsuzsanna Vekassy

 Tom Green (Photo Zsuzsanna Vekassy)

“They are also still young so it will be good to see where they are going. They are putting some good K2s together and they look fantastic. And the top times they did at nationals across all the events are world class, anytime of the year, whether it’s a domestic season or an international season. So, the rest of the world will have to watch out.” Wallace added about team’s prospects. 
 
Women’s Squad
On the women’s team, 30-year old London Olympian Jo Brigden-Jones is the most senior paddler and will be contesting the international season on her 16thAustralia team. After a successful return to international competition last year, Brigden-Jones is looking forward to the season ahead.

Jo Brigden-Jones - Photo Rowing Celebration

Jo Brigden-Jones – Photo Rowing Celebration

“It’s awesome to be selected on to the Australia team for this year’s World Cups and then hopefully for the World Championships later. It’s a big, important year, so it’s really great to be part of a fantastic team who are all hungry to do really well and to push the top crews in the world. I’m pretty honoured that this will be my 16thyear on an Australian team, which makes me feel very old, but it’s pretty cool to think that I’ve started to make Australian teams in 2004 and I’m still here and just did my 19thnational championships. Yes, I’m old, but hopefully I can bring some good experience to the team and help some people out along the way and make sure we qualify for Tokyo,” Brigden-Jones said. 
 
One of those people will be Ella Beere, who trains together with Jo Brigden-Jones at Narrabeen, and has just been selected on to her first senior world cup squad. Beere will also be racing at the U23 World Championships after a successful selection race in the women’s K2 500 together with Yale Steinepreis (WA). 
 
“I’m really stoked to get this sort of opportunity and will make the most of it. We have a really good squad at Narrabeen. We are not all in one age group trying to beat each other training, we are trying to learn from each other and push each other,” Beere said. 

Ella Beere - Photo Rowing Celebration

 Ella Beere – Photo Rowing Celebration

Part of that training group is also under 18 paddler Kailey Harlen (NSW), who was one of the stand-out paddlers at the national championships winning five under 18 kayaking events and also making it through to the open women’s K1 500 A final. 
 
“I’m just stoked. It’s all a bit learning curve for me and just having such experienced people such as Jo (Brigden-Jones) to train and race with, 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, “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 to do as well as I can there. 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.”

Kailey Harlen - Photo John O'SullivanKailey Harlen – Photo John O’Sullivan
 The World Cup squad will go into a two-week crew selection camp at the end of March next with final combinations yet to be decided. 
 
“With the team selected we can now head into our selection camp where we will be trialling a few different combinations and crews for the team boats. Obviously, the priority is on the K4. It’s the big boat and we want to qualify the most spots for the Games so we’ll be making sure we can put our best foot forward come August. I guess there will be a bit of to and fro just figuring it out. But we have some really good girls paddling really fast at the moment so if you can put that all together, I reckon we might be in for a pretty good shot for qualifications. Fingers crossed,” Alyce Burnett, who won both the women’s K1 500 and 200 at nationals as well as the K2 500 together with Rio partner Alyssa Bull, described the plans ahead.

Alyssa Bull + Alyce Burnett - Photo Susan Hughes

 Alyssa Bull + Alyce Burnett (Photo Susan Hughes)

“We’ve got a good group of girls coming through and it’s exciting now that we can reset and focus on the world cup trip and get some good international racing under our belts before Olympic qualifications in August. It’s a big season. If we don’t perform this season there is sort of no next season, so it’s a big one,” Alyssa Bull added. 
 
Final Senior World Championship teams will be announced following the two world cups, before the team will continue on to aim to qualify as many Olympic quota spots as possible. 
 
This will for the first time include the women’s canoeing events with the women’s C1 200 and the women’s C2 500 premiering at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. 
 
Australia will be aiming to qualify a women’s C2 after kayaker turned canoeist Bernadette Wallace (QLD) joined World Championships C1 paddler Josephine Bulmer (SA) to meet the international performance standards at the national championships after only four months together in the boat. With this result the pair secured their chance to contest the boat on the international circuit. 
 
It is also the first time that Bernadette Wallace will be back on the national squad after her last national sprint racing in 2016 and following a touch with cancer (melanoma) in 2016, circumstances that made the selection announcement extra special to the 29-year old. 
 
“To make it back on the team, and represent my country again is such a bonus in my life and I’m very grateful. I’ve worked really hard at this and kept the dream alive for a long time now and just had to hang in there. It hasn’t been a straight line to getting back on the team and I’ve had to change my body to fit the canoe technique, 200m distance and to be able to train full time again. Changing from kayaking to canoeing was like shedding my skin to become something else. I’m lucky to have such great training partners in Josephine and Mihajlo and a coach that believes in us, Duke (Ruzicic). Now that I am back on the team, I hope I can do everyone proud and Australia proud.” 

Bernadette Wallace + Josephine Bulmer (Photo John O'Sullivan)

 Bernadette Wallace + Josephine Bulmer (Photo John O’Sullivan)

The 2019 World Cup Squad will be contesting the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cups in May and June before the final World Championships Team will be confirmed. 

More on Junior + Pathway Teams to follow.
 
2019 Senior Competition Schedule:

  1. 24-26 May 2019, ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 1, Poznan, Poland
  2. 31 May – 1 June 2019, ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 2, Duisburg, Germany
  3. 21-24 August 2019, ICF Paracanoe World Championships, Szeged, Hungary (2020 Olympic Qualification – Event 1)

2019 CANOE SPRINT WORLD CUP SENIOR SQUAD
MEN:

Jackson Collins (QLD)
Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca)
Matt Goble (SA | SASI | West Lakes Canoe Club)
Tom Green (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes)
Joel McKitterick (QLD | QAS | Currumbin Creek)
Murray Stewart (NSW | NSWIS | PaddleNSW Direct)
Lachlan Tame (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca)
Jean Van der Westhuyzen (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes)
Jordan Wood (QLD | QAS | Gold Coast)

WOMEN: 
Ella Beere (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca)
Jo Brigden-Jones (NSW | NSWIS | Sydney Northern Beaches)
Alyssa Bull (QLD | QAS | Sunshine Coast)
Josephine Bulmer (SA | SASI | West Lakes)
Alyce Burnett (QLD | QAS | Sunshine Coast)
Cat McArthur (SA | SASI | Onkaparinga)
Jaime Roberts (WA | WAIS | Indian Ocean)
Bernadette Wallace (QLD | SASI | Currumbin Creek)

2019 ICF Canoe Sprint Junior & U23 World Championships, Pitesti, Romania, 1-4 August 2019

U23 TEAM 
MEN:
Jackson Collins (QLD)
Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca)
Tom Green (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes)
Ethan Neville (NSW | NSWIS | Salty Paddlers)
Jean Van Der Westhuyzen (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes)

WOMEN: 
Ella Beere (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca)
Josephine Bulmer (Canoe) (SA | SASI | West Lakes)
Kailey Harlen* (NSW | NSWIS | Sydney Northern Beaches)
Lucinda Kelly (QLD | QAS | Kawana Waters)
Brianna Massie (QLD | QAS | Kawana Waters)
Jemma Smith (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca)
Yale Steinepreis (WA | WAIS | Bayswater)

JUNIOR TEAM:
MEN:
Jesse Kneebone Ellis (SA | SASI | West Lakes)
Tinus Koekemoer (NSW | NSWIS | Sydney Northern Beaches)
Daniel Kucharski (SA | SASI | West Lakes)

WOMEN: 
Alicia Fay (QLD | QAS | Kawana Waters)
Kailey Harlen* (NSW | NSWIS | Sydney Northern Beaches)
Yasemin Ray (WA | WAIS | Bayswater)
Ashlee Schoene (SA | West Lakes)
Charli Smyth (SA | West Lakes)
Caitlin Webber (SA | West Lakes)

*Qualified for U23 and Junior Team (only eligible in one age category)

See official paracanoe, world cup squad, U23 + Junior team announcement HERE.

See official Asia Pacific + Olympic Hopes team announcement HERE.

Congratulations to all the athletes who have been selected for the

the various teams!

A special thanks goes to the coaches, parents and supporters who have continued to offer support to these athletes who are striving to achieve their sporting ambitions.