Aussie Olympic champs confident ahead of ICF World Cup 2 in Poland

Tom and Jean World Cup

Australia’s men’s sprint kayaking team have arrived in Poznan, Poland ahead of the second ICF World Cup event of the season.

After a strong start to the international racing calendar in Hungary two weeks ago, Olympic champion Jean van der Westhuyzen is targeting a breakthrough season win at this weekend’s regatta.

Van der Westhuyzen and Olympic gold medal teammate Tom Green spearhead the Australian men’s sprint team, which will be among 39 nations racing on the Malta Regatta Course from May 26-28.

Van der Westhuyzen claimed two silver medals in the opening World Cup in Hungary, with he and Green pipped by just 0.38 seconds in the K2 500 final by the Hungarian duo of Bence Nadas and Sandor Totka. Van der Westhuyzen was also a close second in the individual K1 500 final, powering home to finish just 0.45 seconds behind Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta.

Van der Westhuyzen said he and the Aussie men’s team are feeling rested and confident ahead of this weekend’s second World Cup.

“I think the results we got in World Cup 1 give us a little bit of confidence going into World Cup 2,” van der Westhuyzen said. “I think we just really want to build off that result [in Hungary], we’d love to go one better.

“The men’s team is feeling pretty good and pretty excited to go to the World Cup 2 in Poznan. Just coming back, having a bit of a break and re-setting, will set us up nicely.”

Van der Westhuyzen and Green stunned more experienced competition by claiming gold in the K2 1000 at the Tokyo Olympics, in 2021. That event will be replaced by the shorter K2 500 at next year’s Paris Olympic Games, so Van der Westhuyzen is hoping for fast racing conditions to test themselves in Poland this weekend. 

“The course in Poznan, the last two times [I’ve raced it] has been pretty challenging conditions, so I haven’t seen it on its good day yet. But apparently people say it’s pretty quick on a good day, so I’m looking forward to hopefully better weather than it has been in the past.”

Australia finished the first World Cup event of the season with three gold, four silver and two bronze. With the women’s team on an altitude camp in Italy and Switzerland, and the Para team back at home in Australia, it will be the men’s team flying the Aussie flag in Poland.

Australian men’s sprint head coach Jimmy Owens, who has led the team since 2008, can sense the squad building strongly towards Paris next year.

“I’m pretty optimistic that the young guys are going to fast-track really quickly and I think what we see with some of our stabilised athletes that have come off the back of Tokyo … they’re going to do well as well,” Owens said.

Competition begins 4.30pm AEST Friday, May 26. To find out more about the event – click here

Heats will be broadcast live via Planet Canoe’s new streaming platform Recast – click here to find out more 

The finals sessions will be broadcast via Fox Sports/Kayo (see schedule below).

Saturday 27 May | 7pm – 9pm AEST | Live on Kayo Sports or Fox Sports channel 507

Sunday 28 May | 7pm – 8.40pm AEST | Live on Kayo Sports or Fox Sports channel 507

Sunday 28 May | 10pm – 12am AEST | Live on Kayo Sports or Fox Sports channel 505

2023 ICF World Cup 2 – Australian team

Fletcher Armstrong (NSW)

Jackson Collins (QLD)

Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW)

Tom Green (QLD)

Jakob Hammond (NSW)

Noah Havard (QLD)

Benjamin Manning (QLD)

Jean van der Westhuyzen (QLD)

Pierre van der Westhuyzen (QLD)