As the temperature soared, so did the action at Penrith on day two of the Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 and Canoe Slalom Australian Open.
With Australian team selection on the line, paddlers need to overcome the sweltering conditions, as well as their opponents, in an exciting day of action.
ANDERSON WINS MAIDEN CANOE SLALOM AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL
Australian slalom paddler Tim Anderson has won his maiden Australian Open title in a thrilling final at Penrith today.
After achieving the fastest time in the semi final, Anderson switched his focus to the final, where he was hoping to hold on to his lead.
In the final, Anderson was the fastest paddler across the line, ahead of fellow Aussie Ben Pope in second and Morocco’s Mathis Soudi in third.
“I’m really, really proud of my achievements today – a little bit overwhelmed actually,” Anderson said.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever won the Australian Open. I’m really, really happy with all the hard work I did in the off-season paying off.
“To do a really good semi-final and final, replicating that, is something I’m extremely happy with and I’m just over the moon,” he said.
Anderson said he couldn’t have dreamt of a better end to his Australian selections.
“I thought there was a little bit I could have taken out of that semi, but had a fair bit of wiggle room to go faster or slower in parts,” Anderson said.
“It was always the plan to try and keep it smooth and not go out too hard. You always face some mental demons in your national selection races; it’s a bit harder racing off against your teammates and friends than it is against people from other countries.
“To win that is really huge, and it’s not like there wasn’t competition either,” he said.
In the women’s kayak final, Olympic champion Jessica Fox was the best-placed Australian in third, behind France’s Camille Prigent and New Zealand’s Luuka Jones in first and second respectively.
The 2023 Canoe Slalom Australian Open men’s and women’s canoe finals will be held tomorrow. For full results from today’s racing – click here
SPRINT CANOEISTS CONTINUE FINE FORM ON DAY TWO OF GP2
After a strong win with his K4 crew on day one, Tom Green (QLD) continued his good form with two more victories today at Sydney International Regatta Centre.
Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen (QLD) took out the men’s K2 500, and then backed it up two hours later with victory in the K1 1000.
The Olympic gold medalists took out the K2 final by just over two seconds from Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW) and Jackson Collins (QLD), with Pierre van der Westhuyzen (QLD) and Noah Havard (QLD) in third.
In the K1, Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen pulled off a one-two with Collins in third.
“So far everything’s going to plan; K4 was a cracker, K2 was a cracker and just coming here to finish off the K1 1000, so far I can’t complain,” said Green. “It was a tough one – it’s pretty warm, but it’s a headwind and the race is never easy when it’s a headwind – it’s such a grind to the line.
“It slows that race right down but at the end of the day you’ve got to just paddle because you can’t change those conditions.”
With the K1 500 still to come tomorrow, Green is enjoying the challenge of taking on the full range of events on the schedule.
“I really wanted to go into this season trying to get that K4 and also the K2 [selection] – I really wanted to race that at Worlds so we had to come here and perform, and same with the K1,” said Green. “I just want to kind of nurture all three of them and just train as much as I can to be able to be good at every single one of them.”
It was a busy day for the para canoeists with seedings and finals of the K1 500 and V1 200 multi-class events.
Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy (WA) took out the women’s K1 500 ahead of Susan Seipel (QLD), with the V1 final still to come.
Seipel welcomed the hot conditions, focusing more on getting the job done to push for national selection.
“It’s actually pretty nice conditions so it’s a really nice day to be out paddling” said Seipel. “I like the heat, so it’s good for me.
“I guess this is all about getting selected for the Australian team, making those times and doing your best so the selectors can’t not pick you.”
Curtis McGrath (QLD) was first Australian across the line in the men’s K1 500 behind New
Zealand’s Scott Martlew, and will round out his day two program with the V1 200.
After a year out of action, McGrath was glad to be back in a racing environment and working towards a big 18 months ahead.
“Feeling a little bit undercooked which is expected given the amount of time I’ve had off and the amount of time I’ve been training,” said McGrath. “We train a lot and we do a lot of on-water stuff but we never actually really get to race with proper gates and lanes.
“Against Scott from NZ who’s world class, so it’s nice to have that competition and seeing the rest of the paddle community come together is always good.
“Having a little bit of expectation to blow the cobwebs out and see we’re at, some good benchmarking for where we can improve and definitely think we’ve done that this weekend.”
Tokyo Olympian Josephine Bulmer (SA) won the women’s C1 200 while Ben Manning (QLD) was victorious in the men’s C1 1000. The women’s K1 1000 final was taken out by New Zealand’s Emma Kemp.
The 2023 PA Canoe Sprint GP2 regatta continues on Sunday. For schedule and results, click here.