Golden double for Australia on final day of World Championships

Australia has picked up two more gold medals on the final day of competition at the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, with the men’s K4 1000 and Alyce Burnett in the K1 1000 getting the honours in front of a capacity crowd in the Czech village of Racice.

Burnett, who made her Olympic debut last year alongside Alyssa Bull in the K2 500, went out hard early in the 1000, and was able to hold her lead over the closing stages of the race.

“That’s what I came here to do, I came here to win it,” Burnett said.

“I haven’t done to many 1000’s internationally, so I wasn’t sure where I was going to sit. Coming through the 500 I was a fair way in front, and to be honest I had a bit of a thought ‘maybe I’ve gone out too hard here’.

“But the last 20 I knew I just had to stay in my boat and I had it. It was an amazing feeling, crossing the line first.”

The K4 1000 crew of Ken Wallace, Riley Fitzsimmons, Murray Stewart and Jordan Wood were determined to go out on a high in an event that is no longer part of the Olympic program, and having won the Olympic gold in London in 2012.

Stewart, the only remaining member of the Olympic crew, said victory was bittersweet.

“It’s definitely special to win a World Championship, we’ve come close a few times, but that was a good way to send the event off,” he said.

“It’s a pity that we won’t get to race it that much going forward, but it was good fun out there.”

Wallace is the most experienced member of the team, and said it was exciting to win a sixth World Championship gold medal.

“It’s nice, it’s actually really nice to be able to call yourself World Champion again, and in a different event where you can actually stand on a podium with some mates,” he said.

“The amount of time we actually spent in that boat, it just goes to show the experience the four of us have, we can throw something together on the day and lead from start to finish.”

Wood, who partnered with Fitzsimmons to win World U23 K2 1000 gold in 2015, said it was special to win a gold at a senior World Championships.

“It means the world to me, it’s an event that I really love,” he said.

“I’ve raced it over the past few years and haven’t got on the podium. This could potentially be the last K4 1000 that we do, so to come away with a gold is just unreal.”

Fitzsimmons said to win with a limited preparation was a great result.

“We’ve been paddling in the boat once a week, and we’ve really been trying to do that exact race in training,” he said.

“I feel like in training we couldn’t quite really nail it, but today was our day, we did the perfect race.”

Burnett said despite the gold, which follows on from Bull’s gold in the World U23 1000, the focus was still very much on the K2 500.

“We’ve got a really good crew behind us, and a good training squad as well, and we work really hard day in and day out,” Burnett said.

“So to reap some rewards is really satisfying. Obviously the K2 is our focus, but to come out here and show we are still a force in the K1 is really satisfying.”

And Burnett said to win gold on the same day as boyfriend Jordan Wood was extra special.

“How cool is that, we are both going home World Champions,” she said.

Wallace and Burnett also raced in their respective 5000 metre races, with Wallace finishing fourth and Burnett sixth.

In other results on the final day, Cat McArthur and Jaime Roberts finished eighth in the K2 200, Jo Brigden-Jones was eighth in the B-final of the K1 200, and Bill Bain was fourth in the B-final of the K1 500.

McGrath adds another gold to his growing collection

Australia’s Curtis McGrath added another World Championship gold medal to his collection in Racice on Saturday, winning the VL2 final to give him a sixth career world title.

Several Australians were in action in A finals, including Rio Olympians Alyce Burnett and Alyssa Bull, who finished seventh in the K2 500.

2012 Olympian Jo Brigden-Jones finished ninth in the K1 500, Cat McArthur and Jaime Roberts eighth in the K2 1000, and Simon McTavish and Jayden Ellis were ninth in the K2 500.

In paracanoe events, Dylan Littlehales was fifth in the KL3 men’s final, while Jocelyn Neumueller was seventh in the KL1 final.

McGrath continued his rivalry with Austria’s Markus Swoboda in the VL2, eventually finishing more than one second ahead.

“A lot of work goes into getting to these events, and to get on top of the podium,” McGrath said.

“I didn’t feel like it was my best race today, but I managed to pull through and get the win, so I’m pretty happy about that.”

McGrath will now head back to Australia for a fortnight, before travelling to Toronto, Canada, to compete at the Invictus Games.

Big day for Australia at Canoe and Paracanoe Sprint World Championships

Australia will have seven boats competing for gold medals on Saturday at the ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Racice, for most of them the biggest race of their career so far.

Olympians Alyssa Bull and Alyce Burnett in the K2 500, and Jo Brigden-Jones in the K1 500, have experienced competition at the highest level before, but newcomers like Simon McTavish and Jayden Ellis in the K2 500 are getting their first shot at World Championship glory.

Paralympic gold medallist Curtis McGrath will get a chance to add a second Racice gold medal to his collection in the VL2, while Rio teammates Jocelyn Neumueller and Dylan Littlehales will also be competing for gold in the KL1 and KL3 respectively.

Cat McArthur and Jaime Roberts will be in the final of the women’s K2 1000.

There will be more chances for medals on Sunday, after several strong performances from Australians on Friday.

Alyce Burnett started strongly and withstood a challenge from Hungary’s Dora Bodonyi to win her heat of the K1 1000, while the K4 1000 crew of Riley Fitzsimmons, Ken Wallace, Murray Stewart and Jordan Wood finished second in their heat and qualified straight into the final.

Several other athletes will have semi-finals on Saturday afternoon ahead of their finals on Sunday.

Bull adds silver to her World Championship gold in Pitesti

Australia’s Alyssa Bull has added a silver medal to the gold she won 24 hours earlier at the ICF Canoe Sprint U23 and Junior World Championships in Pitesti, Romania.

Her second placing in the women’s K1 500 was even more meritorious than her gold in the K1 1000 on Saturday, as she has focussed more on the longer distance training and was up against a world-class field in the shorter race.

New Zealand’s Aimee Fisher brought up the K1 200 and 500 double in an impressive performance, but European U23 champion Hermien Peters of Belgium, Olympic silver medallist Emma Jorgensen of Denmark and Hungarian speed machine Dora Lucz all finished behind the Australian.

“I was really excited about doing the 500 this weekend,” Bull said.

“I do like the 1000, but I’ve been working on my starts a lot, and I had a really good start for a change. And I had an even better finish.

“Kudos to Aimee, I knew she was going to be really tough to beat. All the other girls are paddling so fast, I didn’t really expect that result at all.”

Bull has made her name in recent times in Australian canoeing as a member of the Olympic K2 500 team with close friend Alyce Burnett, and said despite her encouraging results in Pitesti that will continue to be her focus.

“I do love the K2, I hate going out there be myself, I’m more of a teamwork person,” Bull said.

“I do miss having AB behind me pushing me down the course, but it is nice to know every now and then you can get out and do it by yourself.

“This year’s focus at Worlds is the K2 500, and I think it is going to be that way for this four-year cycle. I’m really looking forward to it.”

In other A-finals, the men’s U23 K4 of Jayden Ellis, Bill Bain, Riley Fitzsimmons and Simon McTavish finished eighth in the final of the 500.

Alyssa Bull is U23 sprint canoe World Champion

Australia’s Alyssa Bull has mastered a strong headwind to win the women’s U23 K1 1000 Canoe Sprint world title in Pitesti, Romania.

Australia also picked up a bronze medal through Jordan Wood and Riley Fitzsimmons in the U23 K2 1000.

Bull, who made her Olympic debut paddling with Alyce Burnett in the K2 500 in Rio last year, took the lead early in Saturday’s race, and fought off fatigue and a strong headwind to take the gold medal.

“You’re not only racing all the other girls out there, who are all paddling so well, but you’re also taking on that headwind,” an exhausted Bull said after the race.

“Far out, that was like the main competition out there. I think everyone was just trying to stay low in their boat. It’s a long way.

“I haven’t really tapered for this, but I love racing so when it comes to a race I can be pretty competitive.”

The strong wind at the course was providing good conditions for athletes in the extreme outside lane nine, and made for a tough race for 2015 U23 K2 1000 gold medallists, Wood and Fitzsimmons, paddling in lane four.

Germany in lane nine won the gold, with Russia in lane eight talking silver ahead of Australia.

“We went out there, we put our best race out there, we did what we could,” Fitzsimmons said.

“It was always going to be a tough lane to win from in these conditions, but there are no excuses out there.

“We were lucky enough to come away with a bronze, and I think it shows that we are in good stead for the senior worlds, we’re in a good place right now.”

Bull will get a chance to add another medal to her collection when she competes in the K1 500 on Sunday, but admits she is looking forward to getting back into training with Burnett.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to go back to your age group and have a race, but I miss doing it with my buddy AB,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s nice to be able to put a good race together in the K1, it makes you a little bit more confident and excited to do it in the front of the K2 as well.

“It’s been a big year, a long year, but it has gone by pretty quickly.”

In other results on Saturday, Bill Bain, another paddler to find himself in the difficult middle lanes, finished eighth in the U23 K1 1000 final, while Jemma Smith, competing in her first big international event, finished fifth in the junior K1 1000 final.

And the women’s Junior K4 500 crew of Tiarnee Massie, Jemma Smith, Lucinda Kelly and Mackenzie Duffy finished first in the B final.