Australia’s canoe sprint and canoe slalom stars have arrived in Penrith ahead of the final selection event for the Australian team this weekend.
Olympic gold medalist Jessica Fox will headline the Canoe Slalom Australian Open competition, which welcomes paddlers from across the world back to Penrith for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.
After representing Australia on the international stage last year, Tim Anderson and Tristan Carter will also be in action on the Penrith whitewater this weekend.
“I’m feeling good – the training and the process we’ve been following lately has been good,” Carter said.
“It’s been a really good environment to be a part of training out here at Penrith.
“Having the selection races (Penrith Open and Australian Open) close together this year is a bit different, but different isn’t always a bad thing and I’m looking forward to getting out there this weekend,” he said.
“We do a lot of training here (in Penrith) and it’s not often we get to race against world class competition,” Anderson added.
“I’m pretty keen to see how I stack up against the field this weekend, and the international athletes we’ve got racing too,” he said.
Three-time Paralympic gold medalist Curtis McGrath will make his return to competition this weekend, following a prolonged break after the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
“I’m a little bit nervous about my own performances this weekend, but I’ve got the experience of having done this a couple of times before that I’m going to rely on,” McGrath said.
“Sport is about pushing your body, and making it do hard things. But at the same time, it’s nice to be back out on the water, being back in a routine and back amongst the paddle community.
“For me, this weekend is going to be about blowing out some cobwebs and seeing where the rust still is, but I always love coming down here to Penrith to race against the nations best and see everyone else racing as well,” he said.
McGrath will be joined at Sydney International Regatta Centre this weekend by his Olympic and Paralympic team mates including Tokyo gold medalist Tom Green and reigning world champion and dual Olympian Aly Bull.
“We’re heading into racing this weekend with the bigger picture in mind, and that’s the World Championships this year where the first quotas for Paris (Olympics) will be up for grabs,” Green said.
“We never really had time to stop after Tokyo, we just got straight back into it and our focus shifted towards Paris.
“This weekend is going to be as much about racing well, as it is about putting the solid foundations down to build off in the future,” he said.
“It’s a short (Olympic) cycle, and everything really ramps up this year, starting with GP2 this weekend,” Bull said.
“Olympic qualifications for us are at World Championships in August, and that’s where we need to be putting our best foot forward.
“So for us, and the canoe sprint program, this year is almost as important, if not more, than the next,” she said.
This weekend will also double as the final selections for the Australian team, who will head overseas for the ICF World Cup season and 2023 World Championships. With just over 520 days to go until the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, it will be an important hit out for our Aussies.
This weekend in Penrith, the 2023 Paddle Australia Canoe Freestyle Championships will also be contested, with the best in the business putting on a show at Penrith Whitewater on Saturday 18 February from 5.30pm – 7pm. CLICK HERE to find out more
To stay up-to-date with the Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 start lists, results and schedules – click here
To stay up-to-date with the Canoe Slalom Australian Open start lists, results and schedules – click here
To watch the Canoe Slalom Australian Open, head to the Paddle Australia Facebook page or Youtube channel, or Planet Canoe Facebook page or Youtube channel