The 2022 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Age Championships took place over the weekend in Eildon, Victoria.
As only the second event Paddle Australia has been able to run in almost two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was fantastic to see over 75 paddlers on the Goulburn River.
Paddlers ranging between 11 years-old and 76 years-old relished the opportunity to compete against their fellow paddlers from other states on the natural rapid course.
There were a number of familiar faces on the course, including Olympian Justin Boocock and multiple World Championship medallist Richard Fox, mixed in with the next generation of Australia’s paddling stars.
For the Boockock family, this year’s event was Justin’s first competition in around 15 years. He was joined in Eildon with his wife Jennifer and his two daughters Freja and Madeline, who both made their Age Championship debuts.
The Atlanta 1996 C1 Olympian, who won both the Men’s Veteran C1 and K1 events over the weekend, and placed 4th in the Overall Men’s C1 and 5th in the K1, said it was a strange but exciting feeling to be back in the start gate.
“I’ve paddled a bit over the years when the kids were young, but actually getting on the start line and competing is kind of foreign, I haven’t done that for 15 years, so it was exciting,” Justin said.
“I gave up racing competitively in the sport when there were still 4m boats and it was a bit of a wrestle to get those things around the course. It’s certainly a bit of a zippier game now, that’s for sure, and watching these young guys out there just ripping it, I can’t help but think that it would be cool actually to have been in the sport when it was like this.”
At 11 years-old, his daughter Madeline was the youngest competitor at the event, winning the women’s U12 K1.
Racing in the U16s category, Freja Boocock qualified for the Overall Women’s K1 final to place 7th.
Justin and Freja also teamed up to compete in the Mixed Canoe Double event, with the father-daughter duo placing second.
Also racing in the U16 category with stand-out performances across the weekend was Sarah Crosbee. Daughter of dual K1 Olympian Rachel Crosbee (nee Fox), and cousin of Olympic Champion Jessica Fox, Crosbee appears to be following in her family’s footsteps, winning both the Overall Women’s and U16 Women’s K1 and C1 events over the weekend.
At her first national competition in almost two years, Crosbee said her first C1 heat was a bit rough as she dusted off the cobwebs, before she found her groove for the remaining heats and final runs.
“In my first C1 run I had about four touches, which wasn’t that great, although I did have a good raw time,” she said.
“I improved a lot in my second run, I was a lot faster and only one touch. I was pretty happy with my first K1 run, but still managed to improve on my second run.
“Now, I am really looking forward to racing in the Australian Open next month.”
Georgia Rankin and Georgie O’Callaghan also had stand-out performances in both the Women’s C1 and K1 events. Rankin won the Women’s Open C1 and K1 Age Championship titles on Saturday before winning silver behind Crosbee in the Overall Women’s K1 final on Sunday and bronze in the Overall Women’s C1.
O’Callaghan won the Women’s U23 K1 Age Championships and placed 2nd in the U23 C1 on Saturday, before winning silver in the Overall Women’s C1 final on Sunday and bronze in the Overall Women’s K1.
Other stand-out performances included Warwick Draper who medalled in both the Men’s Overall C1 (gold) and K1 (bronze) events. Ben Ross took out the Men’s Overall C1 final with Daniel Shamieh in second. Timothy Anderson was just behind Draper in second in the Men’s Overall K1 final with Joshua Montalto rounding out the podium in third.
Qualification and Age Group Championships ran on Saturday 8 January. SATURDAY RESULTS
A and B Finals and Team events ran on Sunday 9 January. SUNDAY RESULTS
This competition was only possible with the commitment of many volunteers and the cooperation of canoeing clubs, schools, the VSTC, Outdoor Education Group (OEG), Murrindindi Shire Council, the Murray Goulburn Water Authority and the State Government of Victoria.