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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.
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.
Australia has made a clean sweep of all three Paracanoe gold medals on offer on the second day of the ICF 2017 Sprint Canoe World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.
Among the winners was 2017 Paralympics gold medallist, Curtis McGrath, five years to the day from when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan and lost both his legs.
Rio silver medallist, Amanda Reynolds, and Rio bronze medallist, Susan Seipel, were Australia’s other winners in perfect racing conditions.
“There’s a bit of significance, but it’s just a sub-thought to what really matters on the start line,” McGrath said.
“I like to think I get out there and make the most of the opportunities that I’ve got. There’s a lot of guys that are going through a tough time back in the military and outside the military with their post-traumatic stress and what’s happened to them in their service.
“So if I can show that getting out there and getting active leads to a positive and healthy life, it’s the least I can do really.”
Reynolds said she was relieved to paddle a strong race in her final after a disappointing semi-final on Wednesday.
“I crossed the line and I didn’t know, I thought I must have stuffed it up like I did yesterday,” Reynolds said.
“I felt a lot more controlled than yesterday. Yesterday was just a panic paddle I think.
“I think I just had to get my head back together and get back on top of it.”
Seipel triumphed in the VL2 final despite a limited preparation.
“It feels pretty special, especially as I haven’t really been focusing on the V1 very much,” Seipel said.
“I guess if I can stay on top with minimal training in the V, that’s fantastic. And if it gets included in the Paralympic program, I’ll focus on it a bit more.
“I think it would be great if it does get on to the program. It was so successful last year, I think we had a great debut as a sport.”
KL3 Women 200
KL2 Men 200
VL2 Women 200
Jocelyn Neumueller won the women’s VL1 title to cap off a successful opening day for the Australian team at the 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic, on Wednesday.
All eight Australian paddlers made it safely through to A finals in Racice, with Neumueller the only one of the group to contest a final on day one.
She finished well ahead of Japanese duo Akiko Nakajima and Monika Seryu to secure top spot on the podium.
It was the biggest win of Neumueller’s short paddling career, having come to Paracanoe on the eve of the 2016 Paralympics.
“It’s a great feeling, for a class that’s quite new and still evolving, I’m very happy with the way it turned out,” Neumueller said.
“I still am quite new, and for me it is still very much a learning experience, and improvement to come. It’s such an exciting time.”
22-year-old Neumueller, who finished fifth in the KL1 at last year’s Paralympics, admitted to feeling nervous before her busy Wednesday schedule, but after a shaky start slipped into the groove.
“I think I was a little bit unsure going in, and probably overthinking things a bit, but after that first race where things just didn’t quite feel right, I was able to get things back together for my semi-final,” she said.
“I was able to win that and qualify fastest for my final on Saturday, so I think that gave me more confidence going into this final today, just doing what I know I can do and doing the best I could, which turned out to be the best on the day.”
“I feel like I’ve come a long way over the past year, but I’ve definitely got so much further to go, so it’s really an exciting time.”
The 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Championships continue on Thursday.