The action continued at Champion Lakes in Perth for day three of the 2023 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships.
Finals were aplenty, as onlookers and team mates cheered their fellow paddlers on to national glory.
Australia’s paracanoeists headlined today’s action, contesting both the Va’a and kayak events.
Three-time Paralympic gold medalist Curtis McGrath powered home to win gold in the men’s V1 200 final.
McGrath said the regatta has been another great chance for him to get back into racing, after taking 18 months away from the sport following the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
“So far, so good…we’ve had some trying conditions with the V1 and the side wind, but there’s also been plenty of quick times, it’s a fast course,” McGrath said.
“Grand Prix 2 (GP2) a couple of weeks ago was my first race in 18 months, so it was nice to get that out of the way and selections as well.
“Here we can really cement where we are going, whether it’s the right direction we’re following in training and making sure we are progressing in the right way,” he said.
McGrath was recently named on the Australian Paracanoe team for the upcoming international season, where the first quotas for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will be up for grabs.
“It’s only five weeks until we head away…it will be good to go over and test ourselves against the international competition,” McGrath said.
“But at the same time it will be a good stepping stone to see how we’re progressing and areas we can improve.
“The main goal this year is to qualify those quota spots for Paris next year, and securing those spots for Australia is what we’re trying to achieve collectively as a team,” he said.
In the last few months, McGrath has also welcomed team mate Dylan Littlehales to the AIS National Centre of Excellence on the Gold Coast.
While the pair have been on the team together for a number of years, Littlehales said training together and living together has been a new challenge.
“It’s pretty early days, I’ve only been up there for a month and half now,” Littlehales said.
“I’m actually living with Curt so we see each other a lot, luckily we haven’t ripped each other’s heads off yet,” laughed Littlehales.
Littlehales said that this regatta has been the perfect preparation for the international season, and given him some confidence before heading overseas.
“It’s been around five years since I’ve raced here at Champion Lakes, you get some fast times…it’s notorious for that,” Littlehales said.
“The Para team was selected after GP2, so to come here to Nationals and have five races here which I can essentially use as time trials for different variations of race preparations.
“The number one objective this year is to be top six [at World Championships] to get that Paris qualification, but beyond that I’m really hoping to push onto the dias and establish myself coming into Paris [Paralympics],” he said.
The action will return to Champion Lakes tomorrow from 8am AWST.
For full results from today’s racing – click here