The Road to Tokyo Goes via Auckland for Australia’s Men’s Canoe Slalom Athletes

Olympic selection points and final Olympic Quota Spot up for grabs at 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships, Auckland (1-3 February 2020)

Six months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, all eyes will be on the men’s canoe slalom events this weekend with the selection battle kicking off at the 2020 Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships in Auckland (1-3 February 2020). The Oceania Champs will be the first of two selection events to determine the best paddlers to represent Australia in Tokyo as well as at the 2020 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup series and the U23 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.

The Oceania Championships also double up as an Olympic qualification event with the men’s C1 the only Olympic quota to be decided in Auckland as no Oceania nation was successful at the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. Australia, New Zealand and Cook Islands will contest for the quota and on paper Australia looks to have the edge, but New Zealand will have the home course advantage.

A large contingent of Paddle Australia’s canoe slalom paddlers are contesting the event at Vector Wero Whitewater Park across all age groups as the event also counts towards Australian selection for the 2020 U23 team.

Australia’s canoe slalom paddlers already secured the maximum quota spots per country for the Tokyo 2020 men’s K1 (K1M) and women’s C1 (C1W) and K1(K1W) events at the 2019 World Championships and will be looking to add a quota in the men’s C1 event this weekend.

National selection trials, which include the Oceania Championships as well as the 2020 Canoe Slalom Australian Open (21-23 February 2020), will then confirm who will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.

Internal team selection rivalry will be particularly intense in the men’s K1 – where both New Zealand and Australia have qualified boat spots for Tokyo but the men’s C1 is wide open with a continental qualification still up for grabs between paddlers from Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands. Each of these National Federations have been able to nominate up to three athletes to contest for the quota.

For Australia, last year’s world championships C1 athletes Daniel Watkins (TAS), Ian Borrows (NSW) and Tristan Carter (VIC) have been nominated to earn the Continental Olympic quota in men’s canoe.

Ten Senior and U23 paddlers will be representing Australia in the men’s C1 and with the event also counting towards Olympic and national team selection, the pressure will be on to not only secure the quota spot but also put in a strong performance to gain valuable selection points.
 
Tasmanian and 2019 national team paddler Daniel Watkins took home the national title at the 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom nationals at Penrith Whitewater Stadium a couple of weeks ago (10-12 January 2020) and will be looking to back it up in Auckland. 
 
“The men’s C1 is super competitive at the moment and I was really happy to have been fast enough to get the win at nationals. The weekend gave me confidence in my form going into Olympic selection and I hope I can carry this form and win the first selection race to take the pressure off the rest of the selection,” Watkins said. 
 
Rio Olympian in the men’s C1 Ian Borrows (NSW) as well as Victoria’s national team paddler Tristan Carter will also be aiming for the top to secure Australia the quota and to put themselves forward for selection. 

Ethan Hodson (NSW) and U23 paddler Steven Lowther (WA) finished second and third respectively at nationals and will keep the pressure on in Auckland as will nationals’s fourth placed Brodie Crawford (WA).
 
Selection will also be the main focus in the men’s K1 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 final national selection trials at the end of February. 
 
After winning his second national title in Penrith a couple of weeks ago, Delfour will aim to put in another strong performance in Auckland. He will be pushed for the top spot by Daniel Watkins who is contesting both the men’s C1 and K1 events as well as Tim Anderson (NSW), who made his first world championships semi-final last year and was the second highest ranked Australian at nationals, followed by Western Australian Ben Pope

Lucien Delfour - Photo Jaime Troughton Dscribe Media

Lucien Delfour – Photo Jaime Troughton Dscribe Media 

While the pressure is on for Australia’s men’s kayak and canoe paddlers as well as athletes vying for U23 selection, Paddle Australia’s dual Olympic medallist and most successful canoe slalom paddler of all time, Jessica Fox, has already secured her Tokyo 2020 ticket and is the only Paddle Australia athlete who has already been selected on to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic team.

Fox, who won the double at the Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Championships a couple of weeks ago, will use the Oceania Champs as part of her Tokyo 2020 preparation, where she will be able to go for double gold in the women’s K1 and C1.

She will be competing at Vector Wero for the fourth time and will be contesting both the women’s K1 and C1. She will be up against a strong international field, including her long-time rival, New Zealand’s triple Olympian Luuka Jones, with the pair sharing podiums in some big events in recent years. At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Jones won silver in the women’s K1, while Fox finished third. At the 2018 World Champs Fox took second place and Jones third.

“It’s great to have such awesome competition close to home – I’ve known Luuka for years now and she’s one of the strongest paddlers in the world and on her home course, she’ll be hard to beat. I think back on Rio and how special it was to share the podium with her and to have New Zealand and Australia side by side, like a sisterhood in a way. It was nice to have the Southern Hemisphere represented when it’s such a European-centred sport and the growth of the sport in the Southern Hemisphere is fantastic,” Fox said, who starts the Olympic season as world number one in both the women’s K1 and C1.

Other women who will compete at the Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships and have already qualified for Tokyo Olympics, include Jane Nicholas (Cook Islands) and Martina Wegman, (Netherlands) in K1W.

Jessica Fox - Lucien Delfour - Photo Jaime Troughton Dscribe Media

Jessica Fox – Photo Jaime Troughton Dscribe Media 

Australia is represented in both the women’s K1 and C1 events with a strong contingent of paddlers, including last year’s national team paddlers Noemie Fox (NSW), Kate Eckhardt (TAS), Georgina Collin (WA) and Demelza Wall (TAS). Up and coming junor paddler Sophie Wilson (NSW), who made her first senior final in the K1 at nationals, will also be contesting both events.

Entry is free for spectators across all three days of the event, with the championships starting at 9 am local time (AEDT +2 hrs) on Saturday, 1 February 2020.

See entries HERE 

For more info see here: https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-slalom-continental-championships/auckland-2020

Event details
(Vector Wero Whitewater Park, Manukau, Auckland)
Saturday Feb 1: 9am-3pm Oceania qualifying rounds
Sunday Feb 2: 9am-midday Oceania semis and finals, MC1 + WK1
Monday Feb 3: 9am-midday Oceania semis and finals, WC1 + MK1
1-2.30pm Slalom Extreme

2020 ICF Oceania Olympic Qualification in Men’s Canoe (Slalom) 
The Olympic Qualification Event in Men’s Canoe will be conducted at the Oceania Championships.

The Oceania Olympic Quota place will be determined on the final result achieved in the Oceania Championships by the highest ranked nominated athlete from an eligible Oceania National Federation i.e. in the semi-final or final.

Australia, New Zealand and Cook Islands are eligible to earn the Continental Olympic Quota in Men’s Canoe. Each of these National Federations may nominate up to 3 athletes to contest for the quota.

For Australia, last year’s world championships C1 athletes Daniel Watkins (TAS), Ian Borrows (NSW) and Tristan Carter (VIC) have been nominated to earn the Continental Olympic quota in men’s canoe.

Livestreaming
The 2020 Oceania canoe slalom championships will be livestreamed on Sky Sport Next, in partnership with the New Zealand Sport Collective.

Saturday livestream:

Sunday livestream:

Monday livestream:

About the Championships
Oceania Championship is the continental champs for deciding the remaining quotas for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. For Australia this is the final chance to secure the men’s C1 quota spot.

The Oceania championships double up as the first Olympic qualifier for many Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Island paddlers, with the second in Australia next month (Australian Open, Sydney International Whitewater Festival 21-23 February 2020).

Oceania Canoe Slalom Championships are a part of the build-up to New Zealand hosting the International Canoe Federation Junior and U23 World Champs at Vector Wero Whitewater Park in April 2021.

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

STATEMENT: AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRES AND AIR QUALITY

As certain areas of Australia are experiencing unprecedented levels of bushfire activity, Paddle Australia is monitoring the situation carefully in the lead up to numerous domestic competitions.

Paddle Australia is specifically monitoring the air quality in areas where upcoming competitions will be held. The health and wellbeing of all of our members (athletes, staff, officials and volunteers) is paramount.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) recently released a position statement concerning air quality and exercise.

https://ais.gov.au/position_statements#smoke_pollution_and_exercise

As suggested in the AIS statement, Paddle Australia will be using Air Quality Index (AQI) 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. 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.

Particular caution is required for those individuals who are already susceptible to upper airway irritants (e.g. asthmatics). Similarly, consideration will need to be given to the potential impact of conditions on technical officials and volunteers, who may be engaged in assisting with competitions over lengthy periods of time.

Paddle Australia staff will also be monitoring air quality in determining whether to amend High Performance training programs in the coming weeks.

On behalf of Paddle Australia, we hope that there will be some respite from these bushfires in the very near future and our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by these devastating fires. We would also like to thank the tireless work of all those who are fighting these bushfires.

If you would like to donate to the relief effort, please do so via the Australian Red Cross here

Paddle Australia’s statement: Australian bushfires and air quality