Twenty-two Australian paddlers have arrived in Auronzo di Cadore, ready to don the green and gold at the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championships in Italy this week.
The future stars of canoe sprint will be on show on Santa Caterina Lake from 5 – 9 July, 2023.
The Australian team features senior team members Claudia Bailey and Fletcher Armstrong, who will be looking to share their wisdom from the recent ICF Canoe Sprint World Cups with their teammates racing in Italy.
Eighteen-year-old Claudia Bailey made her senior debut at the World Cup in Hungary this year, advancing all the way through to the Women’s K1 1000 A final, where she placed 6th.
Claudia will be competing in the Junior Women’s K1 500, before jumping in the K4 500 boat alongside her twin sister Alyssa Bailey, and teammates Samantha Lourney and Jasmine Rayward.
“This year I will be racing in the K1 and K4 500 – the same events as last year where I finished up 7th and 9th. This year I would like to improve on those performances whilst most importantly having fun and enjoying the process,” Claudia said.
“I absolutely love having my twin in the sport, we’re able to motivate each other and push each other every day. It makes the highs and lows of the journey mean so much more special and important.
“I also love the team culture associated with the junior and u23 team so being able to be immersed in the culture and get around everyone,” she said.
Armstrong is coming into the team as one of the more experienced paddlers, having won bronze in the Men’s K4 500 at the 2022 U23 World Championships in Szeged, Hungary.
The 21-year-old said winning bronze at last year’s U23 World Championships was the second biggest moment of his paddling career so far, after his selection to the Australian Senior Team in 2022.
“The U23 K4 that we medaled in was an unbelievable experience,” he said. “To paddle in a boat with Tom [Green, K2 Olympic Champion] really drove all us boys to be better athletes.”
Fletcher was nominated by his peers to be the Australian Flag Bearer at the Opening Ceremony in Auronzo overnight, alongside teammate Jasmine Locke.
“There’s no better feeling than carrying the flag for your country. Always a privilege to represent the greatest country in the world.
“It’s definitely a big thing to wear the Australian singlet, that’s for sure… you definitely wear it with pride,” he said.
While Fletcher said the U23 World Championships provide a great hit-out ahead of the Senior World Championships in Germany next months, his advice for the debutants is to enjoy every experience.
“I’m looking forward to getting some extra international race experience before World Championships later this year. It’s also in a beautiful place, so definitely taking a step back and really enjoying the process and especially the scenery.
“My advice [for the younger paddlers] would be trust training you’ve done, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just have fun chat to other countries and I have no doubt you will make some life long friendships.
“Take nothing for granted, competing for your country is definitely an amazing experience and privilege…not a right.”
The Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championships will showcase athletes over distances from 200 metres to 5000 metres, in both canoe and kayaks. The competition programme will include mixed relay events and mixed K2 and C2. An ICF Talent Identification Programme (TIP) will be held alongside the championships, giving athletes from developing nations a chance to access top-level coaching and facilities.
2023 ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championship will be streamed live via Planet Canoe’s Recast Channel. WATCH HERE
Follow the live results HERE
AUSTRALIAN CANOE SPRINT JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS TEAM
Claudia Bailey – Currumbin Creek, QLD
Alyssa Bailey – Currumbin Creek, QLD
Michael Dunbar – Manly Warringah, NSW
Max Gandziuk – West Lakes, SA
Charlie Heaton-Armstrong – Sydney Northern Beaches, NSW
Chelsea Jentz – QLD
Samantha Lourey – Bayswater, WA
Ziah Peisker – QLD
Jasmine Rayward – Currumbin Creek, QLD
Sean Ryce – Sydney Northern Beaches, NSW
Emerson Simone – West Lakes, SA
Mitch Tamblin – Bayswater, WA
Ziko Vesely – Manly Warringah, NSW
AUSTRALIAN CANOE SPRINT U23 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS TEAM
Fletcher Armstrong – Avoca, NSW
Demi Bates – West Lakes, SA
Tinus Koekemoer – Sydney Northern Beaches, NSW
Jasmine Locke – Illawarra, NSW
Jenaya Massie – QLD
Maguire Reid – Onkaparinga, SA
Charli Smyth – West Lakes, SA
Harrison Taurins – Sydney Northern Beaches, NSW
Caitlin Webber – West Lakes, SA