Perfect conditions greet competitors in Adelaide ahead of 2021 Canoe Sprint Championships

(L-R) Tom Green, Cat McArthur and Curtis McGrath (credit: Carolyn Cooper)

Tokyo bound Olympians and Paralympians from the Canoe/Kayak team have arrived in Adelaide ahead of the 2021 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships at West Lakes Shores from 19-23 May.

In the last major hit out ahead of the Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games, Australia’s top athletes will go head to head with more than 230 competitors from across the country over five days of competition.

The first major national event to be held since COVID-19, the 2021 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships will bring together more than just the elite athletes, with competitors from surf ski, ocean ski, outrigger and stand-up board paddling. 

With no international competition slated for the Canoe/Kayak Sprint teams prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games, the Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships will form a vital part of the squads’ preparation. 

Paralympic Gold medalist, Curtis McGrath, recently celebrated the 100 days to go milestone for Tokyo and said he’s excited to get some competition under his belt. 

“Sprint Nationals will be a good gauge setting of how we’re going, and if our training’s all in line with where we want to be at this stage,” McGrath said.

“It will be nice to be able to race and compete again – looking at the bigger picture, to be able to have the opportunity to race is amazing.

“We’re jealous of our competitors who got to compete at the recent World Cup, but also grateful that we’ve been given this opportunity at Sprint Nationals.

“I’m fortunately, but maybe unfortunately the only KL2 paddler in Australia that races competitively.

“Nationals will be a measure of myself against the clock but it will be good to create targets for myself based on the people around me like my team mate Dylan Littlehales,” he said.

Returning to her home State of South Australia, Cat McArthur is hoping the home ground knowledge will give her the advantage for the competition this week.

“It’s so nice to be home, Adelaide has put on a good week of weather by the looks of it,” McArthur said.

“It’s nice to sneak home before the hard slog of the next two months. We’ve been training so hard as a team and to get the opportunity to line up is great, to really fine tune things before we leave for Tokyo.

“We’ve got a really good group of athletes coming here to race – everyone has put in the extra hard yards and is raring to go come tomorrow,” she said.

Set to make his Olympic debut in Tokyo, Tom Green said the Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships is an important part of their preparations for the Games which are set to get underway in 66 days time. 

“Nothing can compare to the international stage, but it’s good to get a few more times down the course and practice in the start gates,” Green said.

“It’s crazy to think that the Olympics is in 66 days, that’s really hard to believe – time has just flown,” he said.

In the words of his mentor, Olympic gold medalist Ken Wallace, it will be ‘head down, bum up’ until they board the plane to Tokyo.

“Ken has really helped me along the way, and given me some words of wisdom which always play over in the back of my head,” Green said.

“He always says to not let the distractions distract you at the Games, but I think it’s also the moral support from him that’s definitely helped.

“This Games is going to be very different from what anyone knows, so Ken’s just told me to just take it as it comes and enjoy the ride,” he said.

The 2021 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships kick off in Adelaide from 19-23 May.