Jessica Fox and Curtis McGrath take top honours at Australian Canoeing 2017 Annual Awards

Olympic medallist and 2017 Canoe Slalom World Champion in the women’s K1 Jessica Fox (NSW) took home the Canoeist of the Year Award, while Paralympic champion and 2017 dual World Champion Curtis McGrath was awarded the Paracanoeist of the Year Award at the Australian Canoeing 2017 Annual Awards held on the Gold Coast on Saturday (4 November 2017).

2017 Canoeist of the Year Jessica Fox had another outstanding season winning a total of 13 individual medals and three team medals in the women’s C1 and K1 events at the 2017 World Cups and World Championships and wrapped up her year with the World Champion title in the K1 at the recent ICF Slalom World Championships in Pau, France.

Together with sister Noemi Fox (NSW) and Kate Eckhardt (TAS) she was also a finalist for the Team of the Year Award, which went to the men’s K4 1000m crew of Ken Wallace (QLD), Jordan Wood (QLD), Murray Stewart (NSW) and Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW). The Australian men’s K4 were recognised for their outstanding international season, which culminated in the 2017 World Championship title.

“It’s a big honour receiving this award. We had some great results in the slalom and for me it’s been a fantastic season in my individual races and also in the team races with the other girls Kate (Eckhardt), Noemi (Fox) and Ros (Lawrence). But it’s been an amazing year in the sport as a whole and also in sprint, paracanoe and marathon there were some amazing results, so to win this I’m really honoured and humbled,” Jess Fox said at the end of the awards night.

“Curt McGrath I thought would have it, so I’m very happy and thank you to Australian Canoeing and the coaches, the program as well as the Australian Institute of Sport that these awards and who support our sport,” Fox added.

For Curtis McGrath, who was not able to attend in person, it was the third time in a row to receive the coveted Paralympic honour after he took home both the Canoeist of the Year and Paracanoeist of the Year award in 2016. The Queenslander and Sydney 2018 Invictus Games ambassador followed up on his Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medal by wining both the K1 and V1 paracanoe events at the 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic in August.

Fellow Paralympian Dylan Littlehales (NSW) won the Junior Canoeist of the Year Award. Dylan, who only just turned 18 last week, has been competing in the paracanoeing senior class, where he finished fifth in the men’s KL3 200m at the 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Championships.

“It’s a huge honour to receive this award. I competed against the Junior athletes not only in the paracanoe, but also in the Olympic class and everyone is at a high level, so getting this award feels incredible,” Dylan Littlehales said after receiving the award. And making his ambitions for the future clear, he added: “It’s great to train with the likes of Curtis, who is a great athlete and the goal I had ever since I started competing is to be able to beat him and I’m finally starting to get there”

2017 Canoe Sprint World Champion in the women’s K1 1000m Alyce Burnett (QLD) received the Canoeist of the Year Award Non-Olympic for achievements in the non-olympic classes.

The Junior Canoeist of the Year Non-Olympic went to Australian Canoe Marathon Team paddler Erin Blanch (QLD). The 18-year old, who won the Under 18 Women Australian Canoe Marathon Championships, also took home the 2017 People’s Choice Award after receiving the most number of votes via the Australian Canoeing website. This year’s People’s Choice Award attracted a record number of nearly 40,000 votes.

Erin Blanch’s coach and Paracanoe Team coach Andrea King (QLD) was awarded Coach of the Year for the third time in a row. King who provides her time to a number of junior paddlers training out of the Gold Coast’s Varsity Paddlers with national team success across canoe marathon, sprint and paracanoe. Her paracanoe athletes won four gold medals at the 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Championships with the Australian Paracanoe Team finishing as the top rank nation.

On the technical side, Victorian Peter Grant was recognised with the Technical Official of the Year award. Grant who has been a Technical Official for 18 years, became a Slalom International Technical Official (ITO) in 2005 and has held many positions since, including Chair of the Victorian Technical Committee and Chair of the Australian Technical Committee until 2016. He was also appointed Technical Official for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The Australian Canoeing Awards not only recognise the exceptional achievements in paddle sports in the elite environment but across a range of categories including adventurous paddlers, instructors and club volunteers.

The Excellence Award is awarded for services to canoeing in either administration or sporting endeavour over a “significant” period of time and this year was awarded to Western Australian Canoe Slalom coach Zlatan Ibrahimbegovic for his outstanding contribution over twenty five years in Australia to WA slalom and to the broader Australian slalom community.

The 2017 Award of Merit, which is awarded for outstanding achievement in canoeing in either administration or sporting endeavour, this year went to Paralympic silver medallist and 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Champion Amanda Reynolds (VIC), Paralympic bronze medallist and 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Champion Susan Seipel (QLD) as well as to Olympian and U23 K1 1000m World Champion Alyssa Bull (QLD).

Western Australian Sandy Robson received the 2017 Olegas Truchanas Canoeing Award Award for kayaking 23,000kms on the historic Oskar Speck route from Germany to Australia. The Award celebrates an active or tour which best exemplifies the spirit of Olegas Truchanas, who shared his passion for the natural environment through photography, publishing environmental issues and teaching young people how to face the challenges of life. Robson covered the trip in four stages spread over the years 2011 to 2014 with the longest stage covering 4233km (Germany to Cyprus) and the shortest covering 2240km (Indian West Coast and Gulf of Mannar).

The President’s Award went to Jason Dicker (TAS) from Tamar Canoe Club, who also was awarded Life Membership together with Peter Carter (SA) and five-time Olympian Dennis Green (NSW).

Australian Canoeing’s awards night also recognised the Master Canoeist of the Year and Instructor of the Year.

The Australian Canoeing Annual Awards recognise and honour the achievements of Australian Canoeing’s athletes, coaches and volunteers across 16 categories. This year’s Annual Awards Dinner also incorporated the inaugural Australian Canoeing Hall of Fame Induction with Australian Canoeing recognising twelve of its sporting greats.

“It’s been an amazing night celebrating the Hall of Fame together with the Awards and all the history coming with it. There are a lot of people that I knew but I didn’t know their full story so that was really lovely.” Canoeist of the Year Jessica Fox said. “I think everybody learnt a lot tonight and it’s great to reflect on the history in our sport and to celebrate the achievements of the inductees, the current athletes as well as the volunteers, who work behind the scenes.”

The 2017 annual awards were presented at a Gala Dinner at the Mantra Legends on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, 4 November 2017.

See a list of finalists for the 2017 Australian Canoeing Awards winners here:

CANOEIST OF THE YEAR – OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY
− Jessica Fox (NSW), Penrith Valley Canoeing

CANOEIST OF THE YEAR – NON-OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY
− Alyce Burnett (QLD), Sunshine Coast Paddlesports Club Inc.

JUNIOR CANOEIST OF THE YEAR – OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY
− Dylan Littlehales (NSW), Avoca Kayak Club

JUNIOR CANOEIST OF THE YEAR – NON-OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY
− Erin Blanch (QLD), Currumbin Creek Paddlers Club

PARACANOEIST OF THE YEAR
− Curtis McGrath (QLD), Varsity Lakes Paddlers Club Inc

MASTER CANOEIST OF THE YEAR
− Michael Leverett (VIC), Barwon Heads Canoe Club

TEAM OF THE YEAR
− 2017 Senior Men’s Canoe Sprint K4 1000m: Ken Wallace (QLD), Murray Stewart (NSW), Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW) and Jordan Wood (QLD)

COACH OF THE YEAR
− Andrea King (QLD), Varsity Lakes Paddlers Club

PEOPLE’s CHOICE AWARD
− Erin Blanch (QLD), Currumbin Creek Paddlers Club

PRESIDENT’s AWARD
− Jason Dicker, Tamar Canoe Club

EXCELLENCE AWARD
− Zlatan Ibrahimbegovic (WA), Swan Canoe Club

SERVICES TO CANOEING
− Ross Cook (QLD), Sandgate Canoe Club Inc
− Marion Ewing (WA), Swan Canoe Club

INSTRUCTOR AND GUIDE OF THE YEAR
− Angela Welsh (NSW), Sydney Harbour Kayaks

TECHNICAL OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR
− Peter Grant (VIC), Melbourne Canoe Club

THE OLEGAS TRUCHANAS CANOEING AWARD
− – Sandy Robson (WA)

AWARD OF MERIT
− Amanda Reynolds (VIC), Patterson Lakes Canoe Club
− Alyssa Bull (QLD), Sunshine Coast Paddlesports Club Inc
− Susan Seipel (QLD), Brisbane Canoeing Inc

LIFE MEMBERS
− Jason Dicker
− Peter Carter
− Dennis Green

2017 Australian Canoeing Annual Awards recognise achievements in Australian paddle sport

Olympic medallist and 2017 Canoe Slalom World Champion in the women’s K1 Jessica Fox (NSW) and Paralympic champion and 2017 ParaCanoe World Champion Curtis McGrath (QLD) headline the high-calibre list of athletes, coaches and volunteers who have been announced as finalists for the Australian Canoeing 2017 Annual Awards.

The awards recognise and honour the achievements of Australian Canoeing’s athletes, coaches and volunteers across 16 categories. The winners will be announced at the Australian Canoeing Annual Awards Dinner to be held at Surfers Paradise on Saturday, 4 November 2017. This year’s Annual Awards Dinner will also incorporate the inaugural Australian Canoeing Hall of Fame Induction.

“Our annual Awards provide us with opportunity to recognise the exceptional achievements of many people and across all aspects of our sports. Congratulations must go to all of those who are nominated for awards. It is their efforts that define the strength and profile of our organisation that benefits us all and we are looking forward to celebrating with everyone who made such a difference to our sport and organisation in the past year,” Andrea McQuitty, President Australian Canoeing, said.

All award finalists had exceptional results this year. Canoeist of the Year finalist Jessica Fox wrapped up another outstanding canoe slalom season with the World Champion title in the K1 at the recent ICF Slalom World Championships in Pau, France. Fox finished the international season with a total of 13 individual medals and three team medals in the women’s C1 and K1 events at the World Cups and World Championships. She is also a finalist for the Team of the Year Award together with sister Noemi Fox (NSW) and Kate Eckhardt (TAS).

Fox faces strong competition in the Canoeist of the Year category with fellow nominee and Paralympic Champion Curtis McGrath (QLD) holding two World Championship titles to his name in both the K1 and V1 paracanoe events after winning gold at the 2017 Paracanoe World Championships in both events. McGrath is also a finalist for the Paracanoeist of the Year award together with Paralympic medallists and 2017 ICF Paracanoe World Champions Amanda Reynolds (VIC) and Susan Seipel (QLD).

Olympian Alyce Burnett (QLD), who had a strong season in both the K1 and K2 and won the World Championship title in the K1 1000m at the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships as well as Olympian and U23 K1 1000m World Champion Alyssa Bull (QLD) complete the four Canoeist of the Year finalists.

Alyce Burnett is also a finalist for the Canoeist of the Year Non-Olympic category together with Australia’s number one men’s K1 marathon paddler Josh Kippin (WA), who won both the K1 and K2 at the 2016 and 2017 Australian Canoe Marathon Championships.

2017 K4 1000m World Champions Ken Wallace (QLD), Jordan Wood (QLD), Murray Stewart (NSW) and Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW) are recognised for their outstanding international season by making the finalist list of the 2017 Team of the Year. They are up against Jessica Fox, Noemie Fox and Kate Eckhardt, who won bronze in the women’s K1 team event at the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships. Also amongst the finalists are Brianna Jones (VIC) and Hannah Scott (VIC), who made the Junior Marathon team in 2016 and finished ninth at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships. The pair also won the Under 18 Women K2 at the 2017 Australian Canoe Marathon Championships.

Australian Canoeing’s future is looking bright with a number of high-performing Junior paddlers recognised in the Junior of the Year – Olympic award category, including Australian Junior Slalom Team paddler Lachlan Bassett (VIC) and Australian U23 and Junior Canoe Sprint Team paddlers Alexandria Choate (WA) and Mackenzie Duffy (QLD). Paracanoeist Dylan Littlehales (NSW), who is racing in the senior competition at age 17 and finished fifth at the 2017 Paracanoe World Championships in the Men’s KL3 200m, completes this category. 

In the Junior of the Year – Non-Olympic award category Australian Marathon Canoe Team paddler Erin Blanch (QLD) is amongst the finalists together with Junior Wildwater World Championships team paddler James O’Donoghue Hayes (VIC) and Wildwater National Junior team paddler Georgia Tonkin (VIC).

Joining all the athletes in the finalist announcement are three Australian Canoeing national team coaches, who are nominated for Coach of the Year. 2015 and 2016 Coach of the Year winner and Paralympic National team coach Andrea King (QLD) is once again amongst the finalists. Other finalists are U23 and Junior sprint team coach Ramon Andersson (WA) and Canoe Slalom, National Talent Squad and Junior Team coach Warwick Draper (VIC).

Australian Canoeing’s night of recognition will also feature the Master Canoeist of the Year, Instructor of the Year, Technical Official of the Year, Special Services to Canoeing, the Award of Merit, the Award of Excellence as well as the President’s Award.

The annual awards will be presented at a Gala Dinner at the Mantra Legends on the Gold Coast on Saturday, 4 November 2017.

See a list of finalists for the Australian Canoeing 2017 Annual Awards here:

CANOEIST OF THE YEAR – OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY

  • Alyssa Bull (QLD)
  • Alyce Burnett (QLD)
  • Jessica Fox (NSW)
  • Curtis McGrath (QLD)

CANOEIST OF THE YEAR – NON-OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY

  • Alyce Burnett (QLD)
  • Josh Kippin (WA)

JUNIOR CANOEIST OF THE YEAR – OLYMPIC DISCIPLINE OR CATEGORY

  • Lachlan Bassett (VIC)
  • Alexandria Choate (WA)
  • Mackenzie Duffy (QLD)
  • Dylan Littlehales (NSW)

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

  • Erin Blanch (QLD)
  • James O’Donoghue-Hayes (VIC)
  • Georgia Tonkin (VIC)

PARACANOEIST OF THE YEAR 

  • Curtis McGrath (QLD)
  • Amanda Reynolds (VIC)
  • Susan Seipel (QLD)

MASTER CANOEIST OF THE YEAR

  • Roz Barber (TAS)
  • Michael Leverett (VIC)

TEAM OF THE YEAR

  • 2017 Senior Men’s Canoe Sprint K4 1000m: Ken Wallace (QLD), Murray Stewart (NSW), Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW) and Jordan Wood (QLD)
  • 2017 U23 Women’s Canoe Slalom K1 team: Jessica Fox (NSW), Noemie Fox (NSW) and Kate Eckhardt (TAS)
  • 2016 Junior Women’s Marathon K2 team: Hannah Scott (VIC) and Brianna Jones (VIC)

COACH OF THE YEAR

  • Ramon Andersson (WA)
  • Warwick Draper (VIC)
  • Andrea King (QLD)

INSTRUCTOR AND GUIDE OF THE YEAR

  • Mark Hessling and Tony Hirst (QLD)
  • Angela Welsh (NSW)

Other awards that will also be awarded on the night include

  • Technical Official of the Year
  • The Olegas Truchanas Canoeing Award
  • Award of Merit
  • Excellence Award
  • Services to Canoeing
  • People’s Choice Award
  • President’s Award

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.

Australia’s golden day at Paracanoe World Championships

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.”

RESULTS

KL3 Women 200

  1. REYNOLDS Amanda (AUS) 344
  2. MIRZAEVA Shakhnoza (UZB) 778
  3. LULEA Mihaela (ROU) 033

KL2 Men 200

  1. MCGRATH Curtis (AUS) 758
  2. SWOBODA Markus (AUT) 508
  3. SYNIUK Mykola (UKR)  281

VL2 Women 200

  1. SEIPEL Susan (AUS) 1:02:897
  2. NIKIFOROVA Mariia (RUS) 1:03:680
  3. LAHUTENKO Nataliia (UKR) 1:03:808