Fox, Watkins and Delfour Take Home National Titles at Canoe Slalom Season Starter

Paddle Australia’s most successful canoe slalom paddler of all time and dual Olympic medallist, Jessica Fox, has kicked-off the 2020 Olympic season in style, blitzing the field at the 2020 Australian Canoe Slalom Championships and winning both the women’s K1 and C1. Tasmanian Daniel Watkins also impressed winning his third national title in a row in the men’s C1, while Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour took home the title in the men’s K1.

The 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Championships at Penrith Whitewater Stadium was the season opener and first hit out of the Tokyo 2020 season for Australia’s best canoe slalom paddlers on home waters and the lead-up event to the canoe slalom national selection season. The national titles will be followed by the 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championship in Auckland (1-3 February 2020) and the Australian Open as part of the 2020 Sydney Whitewater Festival (21-23 February 2020), with both events relevant for senior and U23 selections.

Jessica Fox C1 - Photo JGRImagesJessica Fox C1 – Photo JGRImages 

194 days out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Fox impressed with clean runs and fast times over the weekend and took home the double national title after missing last year’s nationals. Fox finished the K1 in a time of 97.88 seconds and over ten seconds ahead of second placed Kate Eckhardt (TAS).

“It was great to have our first hit out of 2020 and be back racing nationals after missing last year’s. I’m happy with my racing, especially in K1 which saw me put down some fast and clean times. It was a bit less consistent in C1 but happy to win the double,” Jessica Fox said.

Second and third placed Kate Eckhardt and Genie Collin (WA) – first and second placed U23s – will both be vying for another U23 selection this year with Kate Eckhardt adding a fourth place in the women’s C1 to her nationals’ results.

Kate Eckhardt - Photo JGRImages

Kate Eckhardt – Photo JGRImages 

“It was good to have a ‘warm up’ race before selection to get a good feel for where I am at. Overall I was not totally happy with my racing, I had some good runs but always with touches. Some big mistakes today in C1 cost me a lot of time which was a frustrating end to the competition because I know that I was capable of a faster run. This gives me a few things to work on over the next few weeks leading up to the selection races,” Kate Eckhard said about the tasks at hand.

Collin, who only contested the K1, took home her first ever senior nationals medal.

“This was my first senior medal at nationals so I’m pretty stoked and I was really happy with my final run on Saturday. I had a really solid run with just a few small mistakes here and there and I definitely felt like I became more and more comfortable on the water throughout the weekend.”

Collin, who contested both the U23 canoe slalom world championships as well as the wildwater championships in 2019, will only be focussing on slalom this year.

Genie Collin - Photo JGRImagesGenie Collin – Photo JGRImages 

“I have been working hard to lift my racing level since Worlds last year and it’s really cool to see it starting to show. I’m super excited for selections this year and will be racing the Oceania and the Australian Open as part of my selections over the next few weeks. I decided not to race in wildwater this year and I’m just focusing on slalom. So, I’m really excited to have more time to really train in my slalom and to finish my university,” Collin said.

The senior nationals were only selection relevant for the Junior paddlers and up and coming slalom talent Sophie Wilson (NSW) made the most of it, finishing as the top ranked Junior in the women’s K1 after a fifth place in her first senior final. In the women’s C1, Wilson finished 11th.

Already last weekend, Wilson won all her individual and team events at the 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Age Championships in Tasmania and looks set to make her second Junior team this year. With Junior selection to be finalised at the Sydney International Whitewater Festival at the end of February, this would be great comeback for the 16-year old Penrith local, who had to undergo wrist surgery last year.

“It is a bit of a surprise to be doing so well after having a few months off following surgery and gradually getting back on the white water. Tasmania was my first competition after extended physio and I am very happy with my progress over the last few months,” Sophie Wilson said.

Sophie Wilson - Photo JGRimagesSophie Wilson – Photo JGRimages 

“It has always been my dream to be like Jessica Fox and the older paddlers who have always been so supportive and encouraging and my first time in the senior finals was awesome experience. My major goal for this season is to make junior team and perform to the best of my ability in Tacen (Junior World Championships).”

In Penrith, Wilson not only lined up together with her heroes in the final, but also had the opportunity to race the team event together with Jessica and Noemie Fox.

“It was great to see all the juniors out here racing hard for their selection. Sophie is one of our locals and it’s been great to see her progression, especially after a wrist injury last year. We finished off with a team run – her first one with Noemie and me which was great,” Fox said about racing together with the juniors.

“Paddling with Jessica and Noemie in the teams run was a dream come true. They are both so friendly and encouraging. Must admit I was very nervous to be paddling with such experienced paddlers,” Wilson added.

Victorian Juniors Abby Collins and Georgia O’Callaghan also made the women’s K1 final, while juniors Georgia O’Callaghan as well as Clair Hodgman (TAS) made the top ten of the women’s C1, which was also won by Fox.

Sister Noemie Fox finished second in the women’s C1 with fellow U23 paddler Demelza Wall (TAS) finishing third.

Fox is the only Paddle Australia athlete already selected on to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic team, but national selection trials at the next two events are yet to decide who will join her in the canoe slalom team.

The Australian Paddling team already secured the maximum quota spots per country for the Tokyo 2020 men’s K1 and women’s C1 and K1 events at the 2019 World Championships, but will still be looking to earn a quota in the men’s C1 event. National selection trials will then confirm, who will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.

Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour secured Australia the men’s K1 quota spot at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in September last year but who will represent Australia in Tokyo is yet to be decided.

Lucien Delfour - Photo JGRImages

Lucien Delfour – Photo JGRImages 

On Sunday, Delfour set a first mark for 2020 by winning the national title in a time of 89.67 despite a two seconds penalty ahead of New Zealand’s Callum Gilbert. Tim Anderson (NSW) finished third and 1.97 seconds behind the winner. Western Australian Ben Pope finished fourth and third Australian.

In the men’s C1, the competition is even tighter with Australia yet to secure the Tokyo C1 quota spot and the upcoming Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships and Contentinental Qualifier the final chance to do so.

Nationals were the first indication of the tight battle to come with 2019 national team paddler Daniel Watkins throwing down the gauntlet and winning the men’s C1 national title for the third time in a row.

Watkins put down a time of 98.10, including a two seconds penalty, to win +1.40 seconds ahead of Ethan Hodson (NSW).

“The men’s C1 is super competitive at the moment so I am really happy to have been fast enough to get the win. This is three national titles in a row and that is something I was really pushing for so I’m very happy with the result,” Watkins set.

“Olympic selection was on my mind a little bit but not a whole lot. This was the first race of the season and the last race before selection so I was mostly focussed on getting my head back into race mode and chasing the national title,” Watkins added about the upcoming selection trials and Olympic quota competition.

“This weekend’s given me confidence in my form for this summer going into Olympic selection and I hope I can carry this form and win the first selection race in NZ to take the pressure off the rest of the selection,” Watkins added.

Daniel Watkins - Photo JGRImages

Daniel Watkins – Photo JGRImages 

Watkins will be chased by second-placed Ethan Hodson as well as U23 paddler Steven Lowther (WA) who finished third. Also vying for selections are amongst others 2019 national team paddlers Tristan Carter (VIC), who won the semi-final and finished fifth behind Brodi Crawford (WA) as well as Rio Olympian Ian Borrows (NSW), who finished seventh, behind London Olympian Kynan Maley (WA) in sixth.

Junior paddler Mark Crosbee (VIC), 15-year old cousin to Jessica and Noemie Fox, also made the men’s C1 final and finished an impressive tenth.

Also part of the 2020 Canoe Slalom Championships were the inaugural Extreme Slalom events which took place on Thursday and with Ben Pope winning the men’s event, while Dita Pahl took home the win in the women’s.

With the bushfire activity in the surrounding areas and extreme heat experienced on Friday, the event committee implemented measures to constantly monitor environmental conditions throughout the event to ensure the health and safety of athletes and officials.

Some of Friday’s heats were re-scheduled to the morning to avoid the extreme heat that was forecast for Friday afternoon. A southerly change moved through on Friday evening resulting in decreased temperatures but increasing smoke activity from the surrounding bushfires, resulting in Saturday morning’s racing of the men’s C1 and women’s K1 semi-finals and finals being postponed to the late afternoon. After the air quality improved during the day, the full set of semi-finals and finals were completed.

On Sunday, all individual events of the women’s C1 and men’s K1 semi-finals and finals were completed as planned. The team events had to be cancelled though following a spike in air quality levels.

“The health and safety of our athletes as well as officials and volunteers at any of our Paddle Australia events is of utmost importance to us and given the recent air quality challenges due to the ongoing bushfires in the Penrith and Sydney region, the organising committee, including Paddle Australia representatives, organisers, chief judge and athlete reps, were monitoring the air quality ratings throughout the event. Fortunately, we managed to get through the large part of the event, but when the air quality deteriorated at midday on Sunday, the decision was immediately made to cancel the team events,” Paddle Australia National Performance Director Shaun Stephens explained.

With more events coming up in Penrith, Paddle Australia will continue to monitor the situation carefully. The health and wellbeing of all Paddle Australia members (athletes, staff, officials and volunteers) is paramount and Paddle Australia will be using the AIS recommendations as a guide in determining whether upcoming competitions should proceed, be modified, or, in extreme circumstances, be cancelled due to potential health risks to those involved.

As at the canoe slalom championships, these decisions will be made in conjunction with local competition organisers, recognising that paddling competitions are diverse in nature and that local conditions and circumstances will vary. See Paddle Australia statement in regards to Air Quality here: https://paddle.org.au/2020/01/06/statement-australian-bushfires-and-air-quality/

The canoe slalom season continues at the 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships in Auckland (1-3 February), before the 2020 canoe slalom teams, including the U23 and Junior teams, will be finalised at the Australian Open, which is part of the 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Festival (SIWWF) at the end of February (21-23 February 2020). Teams are expected to be announced at the end of February.

2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Championships Individual Results (top five)
See all results HERE
See women’s Extreme Slalom results HERE
See men’s Extreme Slalom results HERE

WOMEN’S EVENTS
Women’s K1
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Jessica FOX               AUS    0                      97.88               0.00
2          Kate ECKHARDT       AUS    2                      108.20             +10.32
3          Georgina COLLIN       AUS    2                      111.74             +13.86
4          Noemie FOX               AUS    2                      112.33             +14.45
5          Sophie WILSON         AUS    0                      122.84 +24.96

Women’s C1
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Jessica FOX               AUS    2                      106.36             0.00
2          Noemie FOX               AUS    0                      107.25             +0.89
3          Demelza WALL           AUS    0                      119.65             +13.29
4          Klara OLAZABAL       ESP     6                      120.33             +13.97
5          Kate ECKHARDT       AUS    2                      120.77             +14.41

MEN’S EVENTS
Men’s C1 
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Daniel WATKINS        AUS    2                      98.10               0.00
2          Ethan HODSON         AUS    0                      99.50               +1.40
3          Steven LOWTHER     AUS    4                      102.15             +4.05
4          Brodie CRAWFORD   AUS    2                      102.64             +4.54
5          Tristan CARTER         AUS    4                      105.55             +7.45

Men’s K1
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Lucien DELFOUR       AUS    2                      89.67               0.00
2          Callum GILBERT        NZ       0                      91.57               +1.90
3          Timothy ANDERSON AUS    0                      91.64               +1.97
4          Benjamin POPE          AUS    0                      92.08               +2.41
5          Mathieu BAZZIZO      FRA     2                      93.27               +3.60

Fox, Watkins and Delfour Take Home National Titles at Canoe Slalom Season Starter

Paddle Australia’s most successful canoe slalom paddler of all time and dual Olympic medallist, Jessica Fox, has kicked-off the 2020 Olympic season in style, blitzing the field at the 2020 Australian Canoe Slalom Championships and winning both the women’s K1 and C1. Tasmanian Daniel Watkins also impressed winning his third national title in a row in the men’s C1, while Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour took home the title in the men’s K1.

The 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Championships at Penrith Whitewater Stadium was the season opener and first hit out of the Tokyo 2020 season for Australia’s best canoe slalom paddlers on home waters and the lead-up event to the canoe slalom national selection season. The national titles will be followed by the 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championship in Auckland (1-3 February 2020) and the Australian Open as part of the 2020 Sydney Whitewater Festival (21-23 February 2020), with both events relevant for senior and U23 selections.

Jessica Fox C1 - Photo JGRImagesJessica Fox C1 – Photo JGRImages 

194 days out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Fox impressed with clean runs and fast times over the weekend and took home the double national title after missing last year’s nationals. Fox finished the K1 in a time of 97.88 seconds and over ten seconds ahead of second placed Kate Eckhardt (TAS).

“It was great to have our first hit out of 2020 and be back racing nationals after missing last year’s. I’m happy with my racing, especially in K1 which saw me put down some fast and clean times. It was a bit less consistent in C1 but happy to win the double,” Jessica Fox said.

Second and third placed Kate Eckhardt and Genie Collin (WA) – first and second placed U23s – will both be vying for another U23 selection this year with Kate Eckhardt adding a fourth place in the women’s C1 to her nationals’ results.

Kate Eckhardt - Photo JGRImages

Kate Eckhardt – Photo JGRImages 

“It was good to have a ‘warm up’ race before selection to get a good feel for where I am at. Overall I was not totally happy with my racing, I had some good runs but always with touches. Some big mistakes today in C1 cost me a lot of time which was a frustrating end to the competition because I know that I was capable of a faster run. This gives me a few things to work on over the next few weeks leading up to the selection races,” Kate Eckhard said about the tasks at hand.

Collin, who only contested the K1, took home her first ever senior nationals medal.

“This was my first senior medal at nationals so I’m pretty stoked and I was really happy with my final run on Saturday. I had a really solid run with just a few small mistakes here and there and I definitely felt like I became more and more comfortable on the water throughout the weekend.”

Collin, who contested both the U23 canoe slalom world championships as well as the wildwater championships in 2019, will only be focussing on slalom this year.

Genie Collin - Photo JGRImagesGenie Collin – Photo JGRImages 

“I have been working hard to lift my racing level since Worlds last year and it’s really cool to see it starting to show. I’m super excited for selections this year and will be racing the Oceania and the Australian Open as part of my selections over the next few weeks. I decided not to race in wildwater this year and I’m just focusing on slalom. So, I’m really excited to have more time to really train in my slalom and to finish my university,” Collin said.

The senior nationals were only selection relevant for the Junior paddlers and up and coming slalom talent Sophie Wilson (NSW) made the most of it, finishing as the top ranked Junior in the women’s K1 after a fifth place in her first senior final. In the women’s C1, Wilson finished 11th.

Already last weekend, Wilson won all her individual and team events at the 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Age Championships in Tasmania and looks set to make her second Junior team this year. With Junior selection to be finalised at the Sydney International Whitewater Festival at the end of February, this would be great comeback for the 16-year old Penrith local, who had to undergo wrist surgery last year.

“It is a bit of a surprise to be doing so well after having a few months off following surgery and gradually getting back on the white water. Tasmania was my first competition after extended physio and I am very happy with my progress over the last few months,” Sophie Wilson said.

Sophie Wilson - Photo JGRimagesSophie Wilson – Photo JGRimages 

“It has always been my dream to be like Jessica Fox and the older paddlers who have always been so supportive and encouraging and my first time in the senior finals was awesome experience. My major goal for this season is to make junior team and perform to the best of my ability in Tacen (Junior World Championships).”

In Penrith, Wilson not only lined up together with her heroes in the final, but also had the opportunity to race the team event together with Jessica and Noemie Fox.

“It was great to see all the juniors out here racing hard for their selection. Sophie is one of our locals and it’s been great to see her progression, especially after a wrist injury last year. We finished off with a team run – her first one with Noemie and me which was great,” Fox said about racing together with the juniors.

“Paddling with Jessica and Noemie in the teams run was a dream come true. They are both so friendly and encouraging. Must admit I was very nervous to be paddling with such experienced paddlers,” Wilson added.

Victorian Juniors Abby Collins and Georgia O’Callaghan also made the women’s K1 final, while juniors Georgia O’Callaghan as well as Clair Hodgman (TAS) made the top ten of the women’s C1, which was also won by Fox.

Sister Noemie Fox finished second in the women’s C1 with fellow U23 paddler Demelza Wall (TAS) finishing third.

Fox is the only Paddle Australia athlete already selected on to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic team, but national selection trials at the next two events are yet to decide who will join her in the canoe slalom team.

The Australian Paddling team already secured the maximum quota spots per country for the Tokyo 2020 men’s K1 and women’s C1 and K1 events at the 2019 World Championships, but will still be looking to earn a quota in the men’s C1 event. National selection trials will then confirm, who will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.

Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour secured Australia the men’s K1 quota spot at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in September last year but who will represent Australia in Tokyo is yet to be decided.

Lucien Delfour - Photo JGRImages

Lucien Delfour – Photo JGRImages 

On Sunday, Delfour set a first mark for 2020 by winning the national title in a time of 89.67 despite a two seconds penalty ahead of New Zealand’s Callum Gilbert. Tim Anderson (NSW) finished third and 1.97 seconds behind the winner. Western Australian Ben Pope finished fourth and third Australian.

In the men’s C1, the competition is even tighter with Australia yet to secure the Tokyo C1 quota spot and the upcoming Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships and Contentinental Qualifier the final chance to do so.

Nationals were the first indication of the tight battle to come with 2019 national team paddler Daniel Watkins throwing down the gauntlet and winning the men’s C1 national title for the third time in a row.

Watkins put down a time of 98.10, including a two seconds penalty, to win +1.40 seconds ahead of Ethan Hodson (NSW).

“The men’s C1 is super competitive at the moment so I am really happy to have been fast enough to get the win. This is three national titles in a row and that is something I was really pushing for so I’m very happy with the result,” Watkins set.

“Olympic selection was on my mind a little bit but not a whole lot. This was the first race of the season and the last race before selection so I was mostly focussed on getting my head back into race mode and chasing the national title,” Watkins added about the upcoming selection trials and Olympic quota competition.

“This weekend’s given me confidence in my form for this summer going into Olympic selection and I hope I can carry this form and win the first selection race in NZ to take the pressure off the rest of the selection,” Watkins added.

Daniel Watkins - Photo JGRImages

Daniel Watkins – Photo JGRImages 

Watkins will be chased by second-placed Ethan Hodson as well as U23 paddler Steven Lowther (WA) who finished third. Also vying for selections are amongst others 2019 national team paddlers Tristan Carter (VIC), who won the semi-final and finished fifth behind Brodi Crawford (WA) as well as Rio Olympian Ian Borrows (NSW), who finished seventh, behind London Olympian Kynan Maley (WA) in sixth.

Junior paddler Mark Crosbee (VIC), 15-year old cousin to Jessica and Noemie Fox, also made the men’s C1 final and finished an impressive tenth.

Also part of the 2020 Canoe Slalom Championships were the inaugural Extreme Slalom events which took place on Thursday and with Ben Pope winning the men’s event, while Dita Pahl took home the win in the women’s.

With the bushfire activity in the surrounding areas and extreme heat experienced on Friday, the event committee implemented measures to constantly monitor environmental conditions throughout the event to ensure the health and safety of athletes and officials.

Some of Friday’s heats were re-scheduled to the morning to avoid the extreme heat that was forecast for Friday afternoon. A southerly change moved through on Friday evening resulting in decreased temperatures but increasing smoke activity from the surrounding bushfires, resulting in Saturday morning’s racing of the men’s C1 and women’s K1 semi-finals and finals being postponed to the late afternoon. After the air quality improved during the day, the full set of semi-finals and finals were completed.

On Sunday, all individual events of the women’s C1 and men’s K1 semi-finals and finals were completed as planned. The team events had to be cancelled though following a spike in air quality levels.

“The health and safety of our athletes as well as officials and volunteers at any of our Paddle Australia events is of utmost importance to us and given the recent air quality challenges due to the ongoing bushfires in the Penrith and Sydney region, the organising committee, including Paddle Australia representatives, organisers, chief judge and athlete reps, were monitoring the air quality ratings throughout the event. Fortunately, we managed to get through the large part of the event, but when the air quality deteriorated at midday on Sunday, the decision was immediately made to cancel the team events,” Paddle Australia National Performance Director Shaun Stephens explained.

With more events coming up in Penrith, Paddle Australia will continue to monitor the situation carefully. The health and wellbeing of all Paddle Australia members (athletes, staff, officials and volunteers) is paramount and Paddle Australia will be using the AIS recommendations as a guide in determining whether upcoming competitions should proceed, be modified, or, in extreme circumstances, be cancelled due to potential health risks to those involved.

As at the canoe slalom championships, these decisions will be made in conjunction with local competition organisers, recognising that paddling competitions are diverse in nature and that local conditions and circumstances will vary. See Paddle Australia statement in regards to Air Quality here: https://paddle.org.au/2020/01/06/statement-australian-bushfires-and-air-quality/

The canoe slalom season continues at the 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships in Auckland (1-3 February), before the 2020 canoe slalom teams, including the U23 and Junior teams, will be finalised at the Australian Open, which is part of the 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Festival (SIWWF) at the end of February (21-23 February 2020). Teams are expected to be announced at the end of February.

2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Championships Individual Results (top five)
See all results HERE
See women’s Extreme Slalom results HERE
See men’s Extreme Slalom results HERE

WOMEN’S EVENTS
Women’s K1
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Jessica FOX               AUS    0                      97.88               0.00
2          Kate ECKHARDT       AUS    2                      108.20             +10.32
3          Georgina COLLIN       AUS    2                      111.74             +13.86
4          Noemie FOX               AUS    2                      112.33             +14.45
5          Sophie WILSON         AUS    0                      122.84 +24.96

Women’s C1
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Jessica FOX               AUS    2                      106.36             0.00
2          Noemie FOX               AUS    0                      107.25             +0.89
3          Demelza WALL           AUS    0                      119.65             +13.29
4          Klara OLAZABAL       ESP     6                      120.33             +13.97
5          Kate ECKHARDT       AUS    2                      120.77             +14.41

MEN’S EVENTS
Men’s C1 
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Daniel WATKINS        AUS    2                      98.10               0.00
2          Ethan HODSON         AUS    0                      99.50               +1.40
3          Steven LOWTHER     AUS    4                      102.15             +4.05
4          Brodie CRAWFORD   AUS    2                      102.64             +4.54
5          Tristan CARTER         AUS    4                      105.55             +7.45

Men’s K1
Rank   Name                          Nat.     Penalty            Total                Behind Q
1          Lucien DELFOUR       AUS    2                      89.67               0.00
2          Callum GILBERT        NZ       0                      91.57               +1.90
3          Timothy ANDERSON AUS    0                      91.64               +1.97
4          Benjamin POPE          AUS    0                      92.08               +2.41
5          Mathieu BAZZIZO      FRA     2                      93.27               +3.60

Ready Set Tokyo: Paddlers Kick Off Tokyo 2020 Season on Home Waters

With just under 200 days until Tokyo 2020, Australia’s best Olympic and Paralympic class paddlers will kick off the Olympic and Paralympic Games season on home waters with several state and national championships and national selection trials on the calendar over the next couple of months.

CANOE SLALOM
Australia’s canoe slalom paddlers will be up first and will be vying for national titles at the 2020 Paddle Australia Senior Canoe Slalom Championships at Penrith Whitewater Stadium this weekend (10-12 January 2020). The nationals will be a welcome racing opportunity ahead of canoe slalom team selections and Oceania Olympic qualifiers in February.

The Australian Paddling team already secured the maximum quota spots per country for the Tokyo 2020 men’s K1 and women’s C1 and K1 events at the 2019 World Championships, but will still be looking to earn a quota in the men’s C1 event.  National selection trials will then confirm who will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.

Paddle Australia’s dual Olympic medallist and most successful canoe slalom paddler of all time, Jessica Fox, is the only athlete already selected on to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic team. This will give Fox the opportunity to focus on her preparation for Tokyo 2020 where she will have the chance to go for double gold in the women’s K1 and C1.

Fox will be contesting the nationals as well as the Australian Open on home waters before heading overseas for more training in Tokyo and the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup season.

Internal team competition across the other classes is set to heat up over the next couple of weeks with the Australian canoe slalom representatives in the men’s K1 and C1 yet to be confirmed and with only one country spot available per event.

Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour secured Australia the men’s K1 quota spot at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in September last year, but names on seats will only be decided following the national selection trials in February.

Lucien Delfour - Photo Bence Vekassy

Lucien Delfour – Photo Bence Vekassy

In the men’s C1 event, more is still at stake with the 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships in Auckland, New Zealand (1-3 February 2020) the last chance to secure Australia the quota spot and with the event also counting towards national selection for both the K1 and C1.

The 2020 canoe slalom teams, including the U23 and Junior teams, will be finalised at the Australian Open, which is part of the 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Festival (SIWWF) at the end of February (21-23 February 2020), with teams expected to be announced at the end of February.

The national championships this weekend will be the first opportunity for World Champion team paddler Daniel Watkins (TAS) as well as Rio Olympian Ian Borrows (NSW) to set an early mark and to impress selectors in the men’s C1 with only a few weeks left to prepare for the Oceania qualifier. Both are expected to be put under pressure by up and coming youngster Steven Lowther as well as fellow Western Australian Brodie Crawford, who are also pushing for the top.

Watkins - Photo Bence Vekassy

Dan Watkins – Photo Bence Vekassy
 
Daniel Watkins will double in both the men’s K1 and C1 for a chance to make his first Olympics in one of the events, while fellow national team paddler Tim Anderson will also aim to put pressure on both Delfour and Watkins as he prepares for national selection trials.

While not relevant for senior team selection the Canoe Slalom Senior Championships together with the Sydney International Whitewater Festival are a relevant selection event for Junior team selection.

The Senior Canoe Slalom Championships start at Penrith Whitewater Stadium on Thursday with the Extreme Slalom Events with the individual events starting on Friday, 10 January with the heats, while semis and finals are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday (11-12 January). Team events will be contested on Sunday.

For more info see here: https://slalom.paddle.org.au

CANOE SPRINT & PARACANOE
In the canoe sprint disciplines, Paddle Queensland State Championships will be up first this weekend (11 January 2020), followed by the Paddle New South Wales State Championships next weekend (18-19 January 2020). Both events will be welcome racing opportunities ahead of the national selection relevant events in February.

In canoe sprint and paracanoe, Australia has already secured six Olympic quota spots in the men and four quota spots in the women events as well as four Paralympic quota spots.

WK4 - Photo Steve McArthur

WK4 with Alyssa Bull, Jaime Roberts, Alyce Burnett, Jo Brigden-Jones – Photo Steve McArthur

Athletes will have the opportunity to qualify for these teams during the upcoming national selection trials, which will include the Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 (GP2) in February (14-16 February 2020) as well as the 2020 Paddle Australian Canoe Sprint Championships (11-15 March 2020) with both events scheduled to take place at Sydney International Regatta Centre (SIRC) in Penrith.

While all the Olympic men kayaking quota spots are already secured, the women’s team will have the chance to secure up to two additional quota spots at GP2, which also doubles up as the 2020 Oceania Canoe Association’s Canoe Sprint Continental Championships and Olympic Qualification event. Also up for grabs at this event will be a quota spot in the women’s canoeing events, the class that will premiere on the Olympic program in Tokyo 2020.

WC2 with Bernadette Wallace & Josephine Bulmer - Photo Bence Vekassy

WC2 with Bernadette Wallace & Josephine Bulmer – Photo Bence Vekassy 

Both the Olympic and Paralympic canoe sprint teams are expected to be finalised at the end of March 2020.

SAVE THE DATES
See a full list of Olympic & Paralympic canoeing events below

NATIONAL EVENTS – AUSTRALIA

INTERNATIONAL EVENTS – TOKYO 2020 COUNT DOWN

  • 1-3 February 2020, 2020 Canoe Slalom Oceania Championships, Auckland NZL (Quota spot relevant)
  • 8-10 May 2020, ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 1, Racice, CZE
  • 21-24 May 2020, ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 2 Duisburg, GER
  • 21-24 May 2020, ICF Paracanoe World Championships, Duisburg, GER
  • 5-7 June 2020, ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 1, Ivrea, ITA
  • 12-14 June 2020, ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 2, Pau, FRA
  • 3-8 August 2020, Olympic Canoe Sprint Regatta, Tokyo, JPN
  • 3-5 September 2020, Paralympic Games Regatta, Tokyo, JPN

Fox ready to create history at first gender-equal Olympics for Canoe Slalom

Jess Fox aka the official ‘Greatest Paddler of All-time’ has been announced on the 2020 Australian Olympic Team for Canoe Slalom, and this will be the first time in Olympic history that women will have the opportunity to compete in both canoe (C1) and kayak (K1).

The Olympic silver and bronze medallist is excited to contest her third Olympics, with the addition of the C1 event making it even more special.

“Being selected for Tokyo is amazing. Achieving selection, whether it’s for the first or third time, is always so special,” Fox said.

“Each Olympic Games has felt different and Tokyo 2020 will be unique in regards to the expectations and the experience I now have, but also due to the fact it will be the first time I’ll be competing in two events, so I’m very excited about that prospect,” the 25-year-old continued.

“Tokyo will be historic for our sport as it represents the first time canoe slalom has had gender equality at an Olympics. It’s been a long time coming and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”

Although the potential of medalling in both events is an exciting one for Fox, she says she is just focusing on the task at hand.

“The dream is to achieve Olympic gold, but ultimately I need to just stay focused on the process and manage both events well,” she said.

“To arrive physically, technically and mentally ready and paddle at my best is something I’ve trained so hard for.”

Although C1 is new to the Olympic Programme for women, Fox has dominated in the event for several years.

In 2014 she created history when the then 19-year-old became the first woman to win the double (K1 and C1) at the U23 World Championships in Penrith NSW and the World Championships in the USA.

Her historic run continued when in 2018 she claimed eight gold World Cup medals and achieved the “triple-double” – taking out both the K1 and C1 events across three consecutive World Championships. With 10 individual World Championship medals (seven gold) and seven overall World Cup titles to her name, Fox’s feats earned her the illustrious title of the most successful athlete in the history of canoe slalom, a title that was previously held by both her mother and coach, Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi and father, Richard Fox.

The Penrith local credits her parents along with her sister and fellow paddler Noemi, with helping to get her to where she is today.

“My family have been so integral to my success,” Fox said.

“My mum, obviously by being my coach and my dad who has been a huge support along with my sister Noemie, who is an amazing training partner and a woman I’m so grateful for.”

Fox also extended her gratitude to the Paddle Australia team and her friends who support and understand the demanding life of being canoe slalom’s ‘greatest athlete of all time’ (GOAT).

“I’m so grateful for the entire Paddle Australia support team of coaches, staff and team supporters as well as my personal sponsors who have been there for me this whole Olympiad,” she said.

“I’m also thankful for my friends near and far who support me even though I’m rarely there for the birthdays and coffee dates!”

Fox took part in the Tokyo Test Event earlier this month, which gave her valuable insight into what to expect when she takes on Tokyo 2020.

“I’ve checked out the course and done a bit of tourism already, but I can’t wait to be in the Olympic village with the whole team and soak up the vibe and atmosphere of the Olympic Games.

“It’s always so inspiring and I’m so proud to have another opportunity to represent Australia in Tokyo and to also support my teammates,” she said.

“Post-competition I hope I can get to some events and support our Team.”

 

Copy thanks to AOC, Liana Buratti

Fox and McGrath Win Top Gongs at 2019 Paddle Australia Awards

Australia’s canoe slalom star Jessica Fox and Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath have taken home the top gongs at the 2019 Paddle Australia Awards held in Sydney on Saturday night.

World #1 and dual 2019 world cup champion Jessica Fox received the 2019 Paddler of the Year – Olympic award topping off a successful year and a special day with the 25-year old celebrating her selection to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic Team at the awards night.

Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath OAM was recognised for another unbeaten season and world champion title nine and ten with the Paracanoeist of the Year award.

The pair headlined a stellar line-up of athletes, coaches, instructors, technical officials and volunteers, who were recognised for their outstanding achievements and efforts over the past year at the 2019 Paddle Australia Annual Awards night hosted by Seven News Sydney’s sport presenter Jim Wilson at the Mercure Sydney.

It was the perfect finish to an exciting day for Jess Fox, who on Saturday became the fifth Australian athlete to secure her boarding pass to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, her third Olympic Games, after the AOC confirmed her selection earlier in the day. See AOC selection announcement here: http://bit.ly/FoxTokyo

“Today was really special to be named on my third Olympic team and I think it’s still as exciting as the first time, it’s still extremely special. I progressed a lot the last three years and I’m a very different paddler from 18-year old Jess in London and Rio Jess and I’m excited for the next 258 days. We’ve been to Tokyo, we’ve had a look and the world championships have left me very hungry and excited.” Fox said about the count-down to Tokyo.

The Paddler Of the Year – Olympic recognises another stellar season for Jessica Fox, who defended her K1 and C1 world cup crown in 2019 making it three consecutive world cup wins in the C1 and two in the K1. Fox finished the season with two silver medals at the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships securing Australia the canoe slalom spots for Tokyo 2020 that will see her aim for double gold next year.

Fox’s parents Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi and Richard Fox where both at the Australian Olympic Team selection announcement as well as at the awards night to celebrate together with their daughter.

“It’s really special to share that moment with my family and to look back on the year and to reflect. I’ve had some great memories this season and some great moments on the water with friends and team mates and I’m really excited about the next year. It takes a village and I’m thankful for everyone who’s helped us get there.”

And about the paddler of the year award she added, “It’s always nice to come here and celebrate all the paddle sports. I loved hearing all the stories and see all the people celebrated and I’m very proud of being part of Paddle Australia.”

I also want to congratulate all the award winners and nominees tonight as well as Alyce (Burnett), Alyssa (Bull) and Tom (Green), the finalists in my category. And thank you to our team on the slalom side and Paddle Australia and everyone who supported us. It’s been a big year and it will even be a bigger one next year.”

Rio 2016 Paralympic Champion Curtis McGrath also had another record-breaking season, finishing the year unbeaten and taking home world champion title nine and ten at the 2019 ICF Paracanoe World Championships winning the men’s KL2 200 as well as the VL3 200.

McGrath also secured Australia the quota spots for Tokyo and with the Vaa’s (outrigger) canoe premiering at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games he will have the chance to go for two Paralympic gold next year.

“I think this year I was pushed a lot more than I have been previously in my races, but I will work on that and hopefully come Tokyo we’ll have the success like we’ve had in Rio, if not more with our squad. I just wanted to thank the people that have supported me in our team and getting us to Tokyo will be another hurdle, but I’m really excited about the opportunity to represent Australia,” McGrath said about the goals ahead.

Australia’s strong season in paracanoeing was also recognised by paracanoe head coach Shaun Caven taking home the 2019 Coach of the Year awardThe team brought home two world championships gold medals won by Curtis McGrath, while Susan Seipel added one silver and one bronze to the overall medal tally. Australia’s paracanoeists topped it all off by securing Australia four quota spots for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Paracanoeing, which premiered at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, has been going from strength to strength and former head coach Andrea King, who established paracanoeing on the map in Australia and gave the foundations for the last four years, was recognised at the awards night for her work with the Services to Paddling award.

Paddle Australia’s future is looking bright with a long list of high-performing under 23 and Junior paddlers amongst the finalists at the awards.

The Team of the Year Award went to canoe sprint paddlers and U23 world champions in the men’s K4 500 Riley FitzsimmonsThomas GreenJackson Collins and Jean van der Westhuyzen. The K4 gold medal capped up a successful U23 world championships for the men’s canoe sprint team with Green also winning gold in the men’s K1 1000 and Collins and van der Westhuyzen adding silver in the men’s K2 1000 and making it Australia’s most successful U23 world championships ever.

2019 ocean racing U23 world champion, canoe sprint U23 world championship finalist and ironwoman Jemma Smith won the Paddler of the Year – Non Olympic award, while up and coming canoe sprint talent Kailey Harlen(NSW) won the Junior Paddler of the Year – Olympic award after dominating the Australian junior paddling scene this year.

Ocean racing Junior silver medallist Jazmin Shipway Carr took home the Junior Paddler of the Year – Non-Olympic award, while under 23 canoe sprint paddler Brianna Massie (QLD) took home the popular People’s Choice Award.

In addition to the annual awards, three-time Olympian and Olympic silver medallist Danielle Woodward as well as four-time canoe marathon world champion and adventurer Tony Jacoby were recognised for their achievements in the world of paddling with an induction into Paddle Australia’s Hall of Fame by Paddle Australia life member and Hall of Fame member Helen Brownlee AM.

The induction to the Paddle Australia Hall of Fame, which was established in 2017, represents the highest level of recognition for an individual’s contribution to canoeing.

Another highlight of the night, was the President’s Awards which was presented by Paddle Australia President Andrea McQuitty to freestyle paddler, three-time world cup champion, Guiness world record holder, Paddle Australia and ICF Freestyle committee member Jez Jezz.

“It’s not only the list of things he does that I give Jez the award. It’s his vision, his passion, and his generosity and encouragement of others that truly represent what Paddle Australia is about and I’m giving him this award because of the exceptional influence and impact that he has on paddling in Australia and across the world,” McQuitty said.

In other awards of the night, Paddle Australia’s first ever under 23 world championships wildwater medallists Georgina CollinMadison Wilson and Demi O’Brien were recognised for their bronze medal in the women’s K1 team event with an Award of Merit. Geelong’s freestyle junior bronze medallist Jack Newland, who became Australia’s first ever junior freestyle medallist also received an Award of Merit as did Western Australian marathon paddler Doug Hodson.

Sarah Davis became the first woman to successfully lead a paddling expedition down the Nile this year and was recognised with the Olegas Truchanas award, which celebrates a canoeing trip that exemplifies the spirit of Olegas Truchanias and his passion for the national environment.

In the masters category, ccean racing world champion in the 44-49 age group Matthew Rees as well as recreational paddler Terry Bolland (WA), who completed a 1100kms expedition through Canada’s Inside Passage, were both awarded the Masters Paddler of the Year.

Victorian Graeme Caudry was recognised with the Technical Official of the Year award for his efforts as Slalom Technical Official at club, state and national events, while Tracy Gibson took home the back-to-back Instructor and Guide Of the Year Award for her efforts as a guide and specialising in sea kayaking, flatwater and surf kayaking. Ian Beasley received the Excellence Award.

“Congratulations to all the winners tonight and congratulations to Paddle Australia. This has been a celebration of the breadth and depth of this sport. It is a great Australian sport and we look forward to next year and celebrating the opportunities the Olympic and Paralympic Games will bring you all in Tokyo. So good luck to all your athletes and we thank you for the work that you do,” guest and award presenter for the Paddler of the Year award, Matt Carroll, CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee commented on the evening.

The Paddle Australia Annuals Awards honoured the achievements of Paddle Australia’s athletes, coaches and volunteers across 15 categories.

“I think all of the award finalists and winners really represent how well Paddle Australia is performing on the world stage in every discipline and in other ways as well. Particularly Sarah’s (Davis) journey down the Nile shows us that it’s not only the competitive paddling we make great achievements in and I have also enjoyed seeing the range of ages here. Paddling is very much a sport for life,” McQuitty closed the evening.

The winners and inductees were announced at the Paddle Australia Awards dinner at the Mercure Sydney on Saturday, 9 November 2018 with Seven News Sydney’s sports journalist, presenter and reporter Jim Wilson hosting the event.

Paddle Australia 2019 Annual Awards Recipients

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

  • Danielle Woodward, OAM, Canoe Slalom
  • John Jacoby, Canoe Marathon, Adventurer

PRESIDENT’S AWARD 

  • Jez Jezz (NSW), Freestyle

PADDLER OF THE YEAR – OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY

  • Jessica Fox (NSW)

PARACANOEIST OF THE YEAR

  • Curtis McGrath (QLD)

TEAM OF THE YEAR

  • U23 Men’s Canoe Sprint K4 500m with Riley Fitzsimmons, Thomas Green, Jackson Collins, Jean van der Westhuyzen

COACH OF THE YEAR

  • Shaun Caven (QLD)

PADDLER OF THE YEAR – NON-OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY

  • Jemma Smith (NSW)

JUNIOR PADDLER OF THE YEAR – OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY

  • Kailey Harlen (NSW)

JUNIOR PADDLER OF THE YEAR – NON-OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY

  • Jazmin Shipway Carr (NSW)

MASTER PADDLER OF THE YEAR

  • Matthew Rees (NSW), Ocean Racing
  • Terry Bolland (WA), Canoe Marathon & Recreational

TECHNICAL OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR

  • Graeme Caudry (VIC)

INSTRUCTOR AND GUIDE OF THE YEAR

  • Tracy Gibson (NSW)

AWARD OF MERIT

  • Jack Newland (VIC), Freestyle
  • Georgina Collin (WA), Madison Wilson (VIC) and Demi O’Brien (VIC) – U23 Wildwater K1 Team
  • Doug Hodson (WA), Canoe Marathon

EXCELLENCE AWARD

  • Ian Beasley

SERVICES TO PADDLING

  • Andrea King (QLD)

PEOPLE’S CHOICE

  • Briana Massie (QLD)