The 2023 Australian Open and 2023 Grand Prix 2 came to a sensational close in Penrith today.
The athletes continued to put it all on the line, and impress the onlookers at Penrith Whitewater Stadium and Sydney International Regatta Centre.
DUAL OLYMPIAN ALYCE WOOD MAKES EPIC RETURN TO RACING AT GRAND PRIX 2
Racing for the first time since becoming a mother in June, Alyce Wood (QLD) capped off her comeback regatta with victory in the women’s K1 500, edging Aly Bull (QLD) by 0.06s with Kailey Harlen (NSW) in third.
This was Wood’s second win of the weekend having partnered with Harlen (who won today’s K1 200 final) to win the K2 500 on Friday, while she was also a member of the runners-up crew of the K4 500.
“I’ve sacrificed a lot for my family and put a lot on the line for this dream of being a three-time Olympian and hopefully going and winning some medals for Australia,” said Wood. “This is the first step to this process and I think that I underestimated how much being officially on the team means to me.
“I’m a mum now, and got my little daughter Florence in the stand – it’s been a big 18 months and so to come back and be able to put together a race I’m really proud of, it’s cool.
“Anything that happens here on in, I’m really proud of myself and proud of my family and to be in a women’s squad and a squad in general now that’s really pushing each other to new limits is really exciting.”
Tom Green made it four wins from four events on the final day of the Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 at Sydney International Regatta Centre.
The 23-year-old edged his K2 teammate Jean van der Westhuyzen by 0.37s in the men’s K1 500 final, adding to his K1 1000, K2 500 and K4 500 wins from earlier in the regatta.
Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW) was third, with the Avoca paddler rounding out a successful return to racing having been a member of the victorious K4 500 team on day one and finishing second with Jackson Collins in yesterday’s K2 500.
“I’d taken the last year off kayaking just to regather myself after Tokyo,” said Fitzsimmons. “Coming back this year the aim is to get as much race practice as I can.
“It’s looking like I’ll probably go over to the World Cups this year which is really exciting. I haven’t raced a World Cup since 2019, so it’s been a fairly long time and I’m really looking forward to getting back over there into international racing.
“Where I’m at right now, I’m extremely happy. From sitting on the couch last year and watching the boys race overseas, I really wanted to get back into it.
“I think my mindset, my body is still in tip top shape and feels like I can perform at a top level.
“We’ve got a good young group in the men’s squad and it’s great to mingle with the women’s squad and all the paras so I think the Paddle Australia team is really getting around each other and it’s been a good vibe so far this week.”
In the para canoe, Curtis McGrath (QLD) continued his strong week with victory in the V1 200 multi-class while Susan Seipel (QLD) claimed the corresponding women’s event.
Ben Manning (WA) added to Saturday’s C1 1000 victory with a pair of wins in the C1 100 and C1 200, while Marcelo Cabezas (ACT) and Max Gandziuk (SA) claimed the men’s C2 200 final.
Josephine Bulmer (SA) backed up her C1 200 victory yesterday with another win in the women’s C1 500, and Luke Egger (WA) won the men’s K1 200.
To check out all the results from the three-day Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 at Penrith, click here.
FOX RECLAIMS TOP SPOT ON FINAL DAY OF 2023 CANOE SLALOM AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Jessica Fox has proved why she is considered the greatest canoe slalom paddler of all time on day three of competition at the 2023 Australian Open.
On the final day of competition, competitors again tested themselves on the challenging canoe slalom course, this time in the canoe boat.
Despite starting as the third competitor, behind younger sister Noemie Fox and US young gun Evy Leibfarth, Fox was determined to return to form in her preferred discipline, the same boat in which she won gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
And that she did, crossing the line in a time of 104.84 and securing her the Australian Open gold medal.
“I was really happy with that run. It was finally the run where everything feels flowing and you’re powerful and strong and online and attacking it so I was really pleased to put that run down,” Fox said.
“Especially after yesterday where it didn’t quite feel like I was racing to my potential in the kayak so it was a nice run.
“I’m pretty happy with my racing in the last couple of weekends. There’s still a few things where I know there’s room for improvement which is always good.
“We’ve got a few more months before we head overseas for the training and World Cup season, so we’ll be looking to better that and arrive ready to race at the World Cups,” she said.
Fox backed up her Australian Open canoe title with a win in the Kayak Cross. US’ Evy Leibfarth finished second and New Zealander Courtney Williams in third.
“The kayak cross is an extra event on the program and it’s definitely beefed up my training load and my racing load at the World Cup races especially where it’s got to fit in those three days,” Fox said.
“It’s really tough physically and mentally, but it’s good training, it’s good practice and I enjoy it so I’ll keep doing it,” she said.
In the men’s canoe final, Victorian paddler Tristan Carter took out first place, ahead of Tokyo Olympian Dan Watkins in second and fellow National Centre of Excellence squad member Brodie Crawford.
Aussie Ben Pope took out the Kayak Cross final ahead of Merle Long (AUS) and Kaylen Bassett (AUS).
For full results from today’s racing – click here