Olympians Confident Ahead of Canoe Sprint Show-Down One Year Out from Tokyo 2020
Australia’s best canoe sprint Olympic and Paralympic aspirants have arrived in Hungary to contest the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships this week (21-25 August 2019).
Less than one year out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Australia’s canoe sprint talent will be vying for world championship glory as well as Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic quota spots with the canoe sprint season highlight doubling up as the main qualification event.
More than 1000 athletes from over 100 countries have converged on the canoeing powerhouse Szeged, Hungary with hot racing expected when the world championships commence on Wednesday, with all countries aiming to secure as many quota spots as possible.
Almost 900 able-bodied athletes will compete for 170 Olympic athlete quotas and 82 boat quotas in Szeged, while in the paracanoe, 30 male and 24 female positions will be up for grabs.
Hot racing is expected in Szeged when the world championships commence on Wednesday with host country Hungary a canoeing powerhouse and with all countries aiming to secure as many quota spots as possible.
Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Lachlan Tame (NSW) as well as London 2012 Olympian Jo Brigden-Jones (NSW) are the seniors on the 16-strong Australian Olympic sprint class team of eight women and eight men. They will be leading a team that features a powerful blend of youth and experience, including six Olympians as well as four newcomers to the senior world championships team.
On the paracanoe side, all four Rio 2016 Paralympians have returned to the team and Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath (QLD), Paralympic medallists Amanda Reynolds (VIC) and Susan Seipel(QLD) as well as Dylan Littlehales (NSW) are aiming to secure Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic quota spots in Szeged. See paracanoe preview here: https://paddle.org.au/2019/08/19/paralympians-ready-for-paralympic-games-qualifier-one-year-out-from-tokyo-2020/
Like Tame and Brigden-Jones, Rio Olympians Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW), Jordan Wood (QLD), Alyce Burnett (QLD) and Alyssa Bull (QLD) bring extensive experience to the team and have their eyes set on their second Olympic Games next year.
South Australians Matt Goble, Cat McArthur, Bernadette Wallace and Josephine Bulmer as well as Western Australian Jaime Roberts return to the world championships team and are aiming to take the next step towards Olympic selection next year.
Queensland’s young guns Jean van der Westhuyzen, Jackson Collins, Joel McKitterick and Brianna Massie are making their senior world championships team debut, while 20-year old Tom Green returns to his second senior team after successfully surging on to the international scene and making his first senior world championships finals last year.
Green, Collins, van der Westhuyzen as well as Fitzsimmons come to Hungary as the freshly crowned U23 K4 500 World Champions with Green a double world champion after also taking home the win in the men’s K1 1000 at the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championships a couple of weeks ago.
“The under 23 World Championships were awesome and it was so nice to finish my junior career and U23 like that. It gave me a bit of time to reflect on my journey so far and has given me a lot of confidence leading into senior worlds,” Riley Fitzsimmons said.
The 23-year old will be lining up together with fellow Rio Olympian Jordan Wood in the men’s K2 1000 and after finishing fourth at the world championships last year and sixth at both world cups this season, the pair is aiming for more.
“The K2 with Woody (Jordan Wood) has been moving really well. We’ve been getting some really good traction coming into these last few weeks as we freshen up. The whole time, the goal has been to push ourselves onto the podium and we came so close last year. It’s made us super hungry for more success this year,” Fitzsimmons said.
“This year’s world champs are going to be massive and there has been so much more hype around it as they are at Szeged. It’s going to be key to get a great result here so we can build off it into Olympic selections next year,” Fitzsimmons added about the goals ahead.
While Olympic quota spots are a main focus at Szeged, for Rio bronze medallist Lachlan Tame returning to the world championships team already is a win following an extended break post Rio for the 30-year old, including recovery from a shoulder injury.
“To be back competing at the highest level after two years out of the sport is something special. It’s super humbling to know the hard work and dedication I’ve put into being my best and putting my best foot forward for the country is paying off,” Tame described his feelings.
“I’m super excited to see what we can do, but for me at this point it’s not about the Olympics it’s about doing everything I possibly can to give our country a chance at a gold medal this year in Szeged, gotta dream right,” Tame said.
Tame will be stroking the newly formed men’s K4 of youngsters Tom Green and Jackson Collins as well as Matt Goble, who returns to the senior world championship team.
“I’m the old grey dog I suppose,” Tame said, who is ten years older than Collins and Green.
“It feels great. They are three super talented athletes and it’s great to work with them. The young boys had some brilliant results at U23s so that was a good tester for them before Szeged in a few days’ time.”
The men’s K4 500 event will premier at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after replacing the men’s K4 1000.
“Our training has been great and as I believe you can never stop getting better as individuals and as crews. So, every time we get out there, we are challenging ourselves for better efforts and better execution. My dream is to win, and to do that it’s going to take lining up all our one-percenters and bring it to the days where we need it.”
The current K4 was formed following the two canoe sprint world cups in May and after London Olympian Murray Stewart (NSW) had to withdraw from this year’s team due to medical reasons. Murray is currently back in training after back surgery and is aiming for Olympic selection next year.
Olympic quotas, selection and Tokyo 2020 are also the goals for newcomer and surf ski paddler Jackson Collins, who is the son of four-time Olympian and dual Olympic medallist Daniel Collins and who sky rocketed into the 2019 senior team as a 20-year old after only joining the men’s kayaking squad at the Gold Coast last year.
“The big goal was to be on the senior team this year and yes I was a bit surprised how quickly it all happened. But beyond that the goal is definitely to go to the Olympics next year, that’s the big goal,” Jackson Collins said confidently.
Collins’ U23 K2 1000 world championships silver medal winning partner Jean van der Westhuyzenis also contesting his first world championships for Australia with the former South African junior canoe marathon world champion to line-up in the men’s K1 1000.
Last year’s U23 K2 1000 World Champion Joel McKitterick completes the men’s kayaking team in Szeged and will be contesting the men’s K1 5000.
As in the men’s events, the women’s K4 is a key boat class with the event offering the chance to secure four athlete spots for Tokyo and after testing a few combinations during the world cup season, the 2018 line-up is back in action for Szeged.
Rio Olympian Alyssa Bull will be stroking the combination of Jaime Roberts, Alyce Burnett and Jo Brigden-Jones with the main aim to secure Australia a K4 quota spot and the four athlete spots for next year.
“I think as a K4 crew we are all working together really well. We are aware that the pressure is big at worlds as it doubles as Olympic qualification, but were focusing on putting together good races first and foremost. The whole women’s team is in good spirits, training hard and really looking forward to racing,” Alyssa Bull said.
“The last few weeks training in Italy have been great, the whole squad has taken a good step up in training and we are all continually pushing each other every session,” Bull added after wrapping up the pre-worlds training centre at the AIS European Training Centre in Italy on the weekend.
In the women’s K2 500, Cat McArthur has teamed up with U23 paddler Brianna Massie, who will be contesting her first senior world championships.
“I am really looking forward to competing at my first senior worlds. I love the K2 500m event and I am excited to see what Cat and I can do. It is really good to be back in the boat with Cat. We raced the domestic season together this year and now had the chance to grow and develop as a crew. That alone is exciting for me and has been the focus in our last training block,” Massie said.
Massie made her senior team debut this year and put in some strong performances at the sprint world cups in May as well as at the U23 world championships a couple of weeks ago.
“The world cups taught me a lot of things that I hope I can apply to world champs in order to put down my best races. But compared to the U23s, the senior world championships are a slightly different mindset,” Massie said.
“Cat and I have been given a job to qualify quota places for Tokyo 2020. Of course, this is an added pressure, but to me it doesn’t change anything in terms of our lead up or how we execute our race,” Massie said about the significance of these world championships.
“We have been training as hard as we can to be as prepared as possible for the world champs. On the day of racing the process and execution is the exact same no matter what. It is important for us to focus on ourselves and the things that we can control, rather than worrying about future outcomes,” the 22-year old Sunshine Coaster added.
“As for Tokyo 2020, I am definitely looking towards it as a goal, but there are two steps in reaching that goal, the first is qualifying the spots this week and then being selected into those spots next year. I am taking each step as it comes, at the moment the goal is to qualify the quota. After that, I know there are many girls both on the team and back home working hard to put their name on one of those seats and I will be doing the same thing.”
In addition to kayaking seats, Australia is also aiming to qualify the women’s canoe double for next year with the women’s C1 and C2 classes to premier at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Bernadette Wallace, kayaker turned canoeist, who returns to the world championship team for the first time since 2015 and for the first time in the canoe, will be aiming to qualify the women’s canoe double together with Josephine Bulmer.
It will be the first time Australia will be represented in the women’s C2 at a world championships and Bernadette and Bulmer, who only started paddling together at the end of last year, are ready to give their best.
“We have been performing more consistently at training in the C2 and building confidence in our boat skills. Where our biggest challenge lies is in the balancing act of training our strength and fitness parallel to taking time to learn boat skills in only nine and a half months that our competitors have developed after years of racing,” Wallace said.
“I am proud of what Josie and I have already managed to achieve. I have an excellent paddling partner and I’m looking forward to getting back on the start line. I completely trust in Josephine pushing me to the finish line. We are ready to fight.”
Racing starts in Szeged on Wednesday morning, 21 August 2019. The world championships run through to Sunday, 25 August with the paracanoe events concluding on Saturday while the Olympic classes wrap up on Sunday.
Follow results here: https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-sprint-world-championships/szeged-2019
Live stream from the racing will be available via www.canoeicf.com
See athlete profiles Olympic classes here: https://paddle.org.au/team/sprint-team-athlete-profiles/
See athlete profiles Paralympic classes here: https://paddle.org.au/team/paracanoe-team/
Paddle Australia will send out a daily wrap at the end of racing each day.
2019 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint + Paracanoe World Championships Team per events:
|Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Team – 2019 World Championships||Olympic Event + Boat Quota|
|MK2 1000||Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca Kayak Club)
Jordan Wood (QLD | QAS | Gold Coast Kayak Club)
|MK4 500||Lachlan Tame (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca Kayak Club)
Tom Green (QLD | QAS | Currumbin Creek)
Jackson Collins (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes)
Matt Goble (SA | SASI | West Lakes Canoe Club)
|MK1 1000||Jean Van der Westhuyzen (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes)||N/A|
|MK1 500||Tom Green (QLD | QAS | Currumbin Creek)||–|
|MK1 5000||Joel McKitterick (QLD | QAS | Currumbin Creek)||–|
|WK1 200||Alyce Burnett (QLD | QAS |
Sunshine Coast Paddle Sports Club )
|WK1 500||Cat McArthur (SA | SASI | Onkaparinga)||6|
|WK2 500||Cat McArthur (SA | SASI | Onkaparinga)
Brianna Massie (QLD | QAS | Kawana Waters)
|WK4 500||Alyssa Bull (QLD | QAS | Sunshine Coast)
Jaime Roberts (WA | WAIS | Indian Ocean)
Alyce Burnett (QLD | QAS | Sunshine Coast)
Jo Brigden-Jones (NSW | NSWIS | Sydney Northern Beaches)
|WC2 500||Josie Bulmer (SA | SASI | West Lakes Canoe Club)
Bernadette Wallace (SA | SASI | West Lakes Canoe Club)
|WK2 200||Jaime Roberts (WA | WAIS | Indian Ocean)
Jo Brigden Jones (NSW | NSWIS | Sydney Northern Beaches)
|WK1 5000||Alyssa Bull (QLD | QAS | Sunshine Coast Paddle Sports Club)||–|
|WC1 5000||Bernadette Wallace (SA | SASI | West Lakes Canoe Club)||–|
See additional information about Olympic qualification of quota places below, including the men’s and women’s K4s below.
|Paddle Australia Paracanoe Team||Paralympic Quota|
|MKL2||Curtis McGrath (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes Paddlers Club)||6|
|MKL3||Dylan Littlehales (NSW | NSWIS | Avoca Kayak Club)||6|
|VL3||Curtis McGrath (QLD | QAS | Varsity Lakes Paddlers Club)||6|
|WKL2||Susan Seipel (QLD | QAS | Brisbane Canoeing)||6|
|WKL3||Amanda Reynolds (VIC | VIS |
Victorian Sprint Paddlers Inc. )
|VL2||Susan Seipel (QLD | QAS | Brisbane Canoeing)||6|
2019 TEAM PER ATHLETE
Jackson Collins MK4 500
Jean Van der Westhuyzen MK1 1000
Joel McKitterick MK1 5000
Jordan Wood MK2 1000
Lachlan Tame MK4 500
Matt Goble MK4 500
Riley Fitzsimmons MK2 1000
Tom Green MK4 500 + MK1 500
Alyce Burnett WK1 200 + WK4 500
Alyssa Bull WK4 500 + WK1 5000
Bernadette Wallace WC2 500 + WC1 5000
Brianna Massie WK2 500
Cat McArthur WK1 500 + WK2 500
Jaime Roberts WK4 500 + WK2 200
Jo Brigden-Jones WK4 500 + WK2 200
Josephine Bulmer WC2 500
Curtis McGrath MKL2 + VL3
Dylan Littlehales MKL3
Amanda Reynolds WKL3
Susan Seipel WKL2 + WVL2
Olympic quota spots:
INFORMATION ABOUT OLYMPIC QUOTA QUALIFICATION
*K4 events (Men and Women)* Note: All the athlete quota places for the K4 events will be allocated at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.
- 1. (i) The 10 highest ranked NOCs from the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships will receive four (4) athlete quota places each.
- 2. (ii) Where there are fewer than four (4) continents represented in the 10 highest ranked NOCs, then to the extent necessary to ensure that NOCs from four (4) continents receive athlete quota places, the tenth (10th), ninth (9th) and if necessary, the eighth (8th) ranked place(s) will be reallocated to the next highest ranked NOC at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships from a continent without any K4 boats qualified in that event.
- 3. (iii) Where NOCs from fewer than 4 continents compete in the Finals at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, then the highest ranked NOC(s) not yet qualified will obtain the athlete quota places regardless of continent.
See Olympic quota qualification infoHERE