Bright future for Aus Canoeing after successful U23 World Champs
30 July 2018
CANOE SPRINT: After an impressive medal haul at the 2018 ICF U23 and Junior Canoe Sprint World Championships in Bulgaria, Paddle Australia National Pathways boss David Foureur believes the foundations have been laid for a strong future in Australian sprint canoeing.
Australia's success included gold medal performances from Queenslanders Joel McKitterick and Thomas Green in the U23 K2 1000 title and a silver finish for Simon McTavish in the U23 K1 1000.
It was the perfect end to a fairytale comeback to the Australian team for McKitterick, who stepped away from the national squad for two years to concentrate on his studies.
McKitterick and Green are the second Australians to win the K2 1000 U23 in recent years. Fellow Queenslanders Jordan Wood and Riley Fitzsimmons took gold in 2015, and then went on to make their Olympic debuts in 2016.
Of his gold medal performance McKitterick said,
"Just making it on to the team, I was pretty stoked. To just miss the senior team was a bit of a kick in the guts, so I just wanted to come here and give it a really strong crack for my last year.
“If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said I’m not sure (where I would place), maybe top three.
“Being on top now is just awesome. It’s like a long dream that everyone wants to achieve, but only a few people actually do"
The Australian team built on the gold and silver medal it won on Friday with several more A-finals on Sunday, along with many other strong performers across both U23 and junior competition.
“I don’t think there would be too many athletes who would be disappointed,” David Foureur, Paddle Australia National Pathways boss said.
"We got into a lot of A finals, and narrowly missed winning B finals as well,
“We were just off the pace of a couple of A finals, but we are starting to knock on the door and I think things are starting to evolve through our junior ranks.”
Over the weekend, Sydney’s 16-year old Kailey Harlen, competing on her first Australian team since taking up sprint canoeing just 12 months ago, finished sixth in the final of the junior women’s K1 500 after winning her semifinal.
The U23 men’s K4 500 team of Jayden Ellis (SA), Joel McKitterick (QLD), Thomas Green (QLD) and Simon McTavish (NSW) finished eighth in their final, while Shannon Reynolds (WA) and Brianna Massie (QLD) were ninth in the U23 K2 500 final.
Australia’s junior K4 500 team of Daniel Kucharski (SA), Jesse Kneebone-Ellis (SA), Harrison Armstrong (NSW) and Thomas Hughes (NSW) finished a close second in their B final.
Queenslanders Tiarnee Massie and Mackenzie Duffy were third in their junior K2 500 B final, Chris Kither (SA) was eighth in the B final of the K1 men’s U23 500, and Carter Brodhurst-Hill (QLD) was sixth in the C final of the junior K1 500.
“The athletes prepared well,” Foureur said. “Last year coming in we had a lot of sickness. This year they’ve come in and I think all paddled up to expectations.”
Foureur explained the importance of a country always being prepared for generational change and that the results in Plovdiv show the future of sprint canoe in Australia is in good hands.
“Those U23 boys have certainly put their hands up and with Tokyo just two years away, they’re going to be knocking right on the door,” he said.
“That upward pressure is great for the men and from our women’s point of view, our U23 girls were in the final of the K4 and K2, and young Kailey Harlen in the K1 500 was a phenomenal result. Sixth place in a final for someone who has only been paddling about 18 months, she is a star of the future.”
U23 Team members Tom Green and Josephine Bulmer (SA), who finished second in her U23 C1 200m final on Friday, now continue on to contest the Senior Canoe Sprint World Championships in Montemor o Velho, Portugal from 23 – 26 August 2018.