Australia’s Olympic canoe sprint future is looking bright with Paddle Australia’s up and coming talent impressing at the national sprint titles last week which doubled up as the final selection event for Paddle Australia’s U23, Junior and under age representative teams.
While Junior teams were decided at the national championships, the U23 selections were decided across two selection events, the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships & GP2 mid-February as well as the 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships last week.
The U23 team to contest the 2020 U23 & Junior ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Brandenburg, Germany in July (16-19 July 2020) will be spearheaded by Tokyo 2020 Olympic prospects Tom Green (QLD) and Jean van der Westhuyzen (QLD), who are the defending U23 K4 500 World Championships. Tom Green also holds the 2019 U23 World Champion title in the men’s K1 1000 with van der Westhuyzen also a silver medallist in the K2 1000 (with Jackson Collins). Green and van der Westhuyzen secured their team selection with a win in the U23 K2 1000 at the Oceania Champs.
They will be joined by fellow U23 K4 World Champion Jackson Collins (QLD) as well as South Australian Reece Bacchus and New South Welshmen Fletcher Cunningham, Jakob Hammond, and Ethan Neville.
“It’s a great honour to be able to represent my country at an international level and it’s something that not too many people can say that they have done. For me, it gives me the opportunity to give my 110% to something and do my family, friends and Australia proud. It’s also a great opportunity to gain international race experience and pathway to hopefully make a senior team one day,” Ethan Neville said after being nominated to the team.
Neville put in a strong performance in the Open men’s events which secured him selection to the team.
“I was pretty happy with how the selection trials went. I was over the moon to have come away with second and a new PB in the Open men’s K1 200 at nationals, which automatically selected me for the U23 team. I also made the B-final in the open K1 500 and had nothing to lose in that race so I went for it and tried my best to hold on and it was a good race in the end as well.”
In the U23 women’s kayaking events, up and coming canoe sprint talents Kailey Harlen (NSW) and Ella Beere(NSW) as well as Yale Steinepreis (WA) and Mackenzie Duffy (QLD) already secured their selection mid-February when they took out first and second place in the women’s K2 1000 and confirmed their nomination with strong performances at nationals.
“I’m over the moon with the awesome chance to compete at the U23 World Champs! To me making this team shows to me that I can come back and prove that I am willing to show to the rest of my competition that I am ready to compete at the highest level,” Kailey Harlen said.
“Making this team is an opportunity to have a second chance at competing on the world stage. After missing out last year, I’m excited to improve and continue to learn new experiences with girls I may not have trained with before. Excited is an understatement,” Harlen added, who came up from Juniors this year and missed out of racing at the Junior world championships last year due to a wrist injury.
Harlen & Beere – JGRImages
“It will be exciting to hopefully get to race in Germany as I have never been there before. I am hoping to learn as much as I can to prepare for future years. Both the girls and guys are all really good friends so it will be a fun trip away,” Beere said about making the team.
Queenslander Mackenzie Duffy as well as Western Australian Yale Steinepreis will join Harlen and Beere on the U23 women’s kayaking team.
“It means a lot to be named on the u23 team because I unfortunately had to pull out from the team last year due to health reasons and to know that I was able to push through all of that to make the team again in my last year of the age group means a lot. My team at WAIS put in a lot of effort to get me back on track and my results in both my K1s and being the highest placed 23 are a massive testament to the efforts of my amazing team,” Steinepreis gave credit to her support team.
The National sprint championships also decided the 2020 Canoe Sprint Junior National Team as well as Paddle Australia’s Olympic Hopes Team with paddlers securing their chance to represent Australia and gain international competition experience at the 2020 Canoe Sprint Olympic Hopes Regatta, which is designed for paddlers age 17 and under.
Six junior women’s paddlers and four junior men paddlers will be representing Australia at this year’s ICF U23 and Junior Canoe Sprint World Championships.
In the men’s, Avoca Kayak Club paddler Fletcher Armstrong had a stand-out national season taking home the wins in most of his events. He will be joined by his K2 and K4 partner and Sydney Northern Beaches’ paddler Jarrah Sheppard as well as South Australian Will Spencer and Western Australian Luke Egger.
“I’m so happy with how nationals went and to come home with the wins as you can’t take anything for granted in races like this. The boys made it really tough and I’m very grateful to come away with it,” Armstrong said, who came back from surgery last year.
“Last year I flew over to the nationals at Perth just to see everyone and to see how everyone was going. I hadn’t done any training then and still had a paddle down the course and just watching those boys made me want to come back and I’m so happy to finally be in that position and making the team,” Armstrong added.
In the women’s, Sydney Northern Beaches paddlers Alisa van der Kwartel and Sascha Taurins secured selection after winning the women’s K2 500, with Sunshine Coasters Jenaya Massie and Phoebe Wills-Grace joining them on the team after winning the event at GP2 and finishing second at nationals.
They will be joined by Western Australian Harriette Alexis, who impressed with her first K1 national title and a PB in the K1 200 at nationals as well as Illawarra paddler Jasmine Locke.
“Going to the Junior Worlds was my biggest aim this year so I’m really happy with that and very excited as this is my first team ever,” Alexis said, a sentiment echoed by Youth Olympics paddler Massie, who is also making her first Junior National Team.
“I’m really excited and privileged to have been selected on this year’s junior worlds team. After a really big season of trying different things to become more professional in my training on/off the water and taking more time to look after my body, it feels great that all the hard work has payed off,” Jenaya Massie said.
“I cannot wait to represent Australia alongside a great team and I know that whatever decision is made in regards to the COVID-19 and the championships is in the best interests of our health and wellbeing. Until then, bring on a solid few months of training and hard work,” Massie added with the International Canoe Federation currently continuing to plan for the world championships to go ahead, with an update expected at the start of May.
The Olympic Hopes Team is set to contest the 2020 Olympic Hopes Canoe Sprint Regatta in Szeged Hungary (18-20 September) with the first athletes provisionally nominated for the team and with the final team to be announced over the next couple of weeks.
2020 ICF Canoe Sprint U23 & Junior World Championships, Brandenburg, German, 11-16 July 2020
Bacchus, Reece (SASI) Beere, Ella (NSWIS)
Collins, Jackson (QAS) Duffy, Mackenzie (QAS)
Cunningham, Fletcher (NSWIS) Harley, Kailey (NSWIS)
Green, Tom (QAS) Steinepreis, Yale (WAIS)
Hammond, Jakob (NSWIS)
Neville, Ethan (NSWIS)
Van der Westhuyzen, Jean (QLD)
2020 ICF Canoe Sprint U23 & Junior World Championships, Brandenburg, Germany, 11-16 July 2020
Armstrong, Fletcher (NSW)
Egger, Luke (WA)
Sheppard, Jarrah (NSW)
Spencer, Will (SA)
Alexis, Harriette (WA)
Locke, Jasmine (NSW)
Massie, Jenaya (QLD)
Taurins, Sascha (NSW)
Van der Kwartel, Alisa (NSW)
Wills-Grace, Phoebe (QLD)