First international medals and personal best times were achieved by our relatively fresh kiwi paddlers at the ICF World Cup in the Czech Republic over the weekend, after a three year absence from the World Cup scene.
Nathan Luce, the new CRNZ General Manager of Performance was positive following the event, and blown away by the quality of the international competition.
“Since I’ve been involved with Canoe Sprint, I would say this was probably one of the most competitive world cups in terms of number of entries but also in terms of the standard of the performances.” said Nathan.
“I was very pleased to see how our young team performed. This was an opportunity for most of our athletes with either no or minimal international racing experience to see where they stand among the world’s best. The results were very promising.”
Perhaps not unexpected was Dame Lisa Carrington, who maintained her winning form from the Tokyo Olympics to take home the Women’s K1 500m gold, demonstrating that she is still very much the favourite to maintain her standing as the best female paddler in the world.
Post-race, Lisa recognised the tight racing she experienced against Aimee Fisher in the selection trials in April as an important factor in getting her race ready.
“Season seems to be going good. I had some really good races, tough races, in NZ a few weeks ago which got my A into G.” Lisa told awaiting media. “It’s nice to back in Europe, three years since I’ve raced a World Cup. It’s nice to be able to race such a quality field.”
Fellow Olympian Alicia Hoskin was ecstatic to win her first international medal, teaming up with Carrington in the WK2 500m and racing to a fabulous bronze medal in hard fought battle with Olympic silver medal winning Polish crew and a young, powerful German crew.
“It was so exciting racing crews of such a high calibre.” said the 22 year old Hoskin. “It gave me a confidence boost that we can stick to our race plan even when the pressure comes on. It will be exciting to see what we can do as we continue to build and learn together.”
The women’s K4, led by Tokyo Olympians Lisa and Alicia, made the A final and placed a very respectable 6th place, an incredible result considering it was the first senior international regatta for Olivia Brett and Tara Vaughan. Tara is only 18 and had never even competed as a Junior internationally. This result bodes well for the future as NZ aim to qualify the K4 next year for the Paris Olympics.
On the men’s side, the regatta got off to an exciting start with two NZ men’s K4 500m crews. Both teams had strong performances in the heats and then had to battle each other in the semis where Ashton Reiser, Ben McCallum, James Munro and Zach Ferkins reached the B Final. The other K4 unfortunately suffered from equipment issues in their semi.
Ben McCallum showed that he has a bright future in the K1 1000m event as he carved 8 seconds off his PB in his heat, finishing with a very respectable time of 3:31. Ben and fellow kiwi Quaid Thompson had a great battle in the C Final but Ben eventually took control and placed 2nd (20th overall) which is a strong result considering this was his first senior international race.
“I’ve learnt heaps at my first World Cup.” said Ben. “I have got a lot of work to do but I believe it is possible to be one of the top guys in the world in a couple of years. It’s going to be great to bring this confidence and extra motivation home.”
The Men’s K2 crews had very little margin for error in the heats and both our crews paddled PB times just to make the top half cut off. Unfortunately, they couldn’t back up their solid heat performances in the semis and again battled each other in the C Final where Ben Duffy and Hamish Legarth just pipped the Olympic pair Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie for 7th (25th overall).
“It was a tough weekend with some really high-level competition, but awesome to be back racing the world after such a long break from racing in Europe” Max reflected. “I think our crews learnt a lot from this World Cup and hopefully we can leverage those for the next one.”
The next one isn’t too far away, with World Cup 2 in Poland this coming weekend. The team have already relocated up to Poznan and are looking forward to racing starting again on Thursday (local time).
“There isn’t much time to catch our breath but I am hoping our crews will take some good learning from last week and apply that to some even better performances.” said Luce. “It looks like we’ll be facing another tough field which will provide us with some great experiences as we prepare for this year’s World Championships in Dartmouth, Canada.”
World Cup 2 in Poznan, Poland runs from 26-29 May. It will be live streamed on the Planet Canoe Youtube channel https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-sprint-world-cup/poznan-2022
Stay tuned for race schedules and updates.