Sports Talk || Exciting times for canoe slalom
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Canoe slalom has been well represented on the world stage this year, and most of those international paddlers have originated in the Bay of Plenty. This is also reflected in this year's Bay of Plenty Sports Awards, with an unprecedented five individual nominations and one team nomination.
The strength in world canoe slalom is in Europe, so our paddlers must compete in this forum to really test their performance. The disciplines are individual canoe C1 (kneeling with a single bladed paddle) and individual kayak K1 (sitting with a double-bladed paddle).
This year Luuka Jones has had her best ever season (notwithstanding a Rio Olympic Silver Medal in 2016!) by winning her first ever World Championship bronze medal, as well as a silver in a World Cup event. She is currently in Tokyo for a test event having already secured her Olympic spot for 2020 in both C1 and K1.
Callum Gilbert, who is pushing for the men’s K1 Olympic spot in Tokyo, has had a career-high with a 9th at the U23 World Champs and a 5th and 11th at World Cup races.
Jack Egan has had a history making 9th place in C1 at the U18 World Championships, as well as successfully defending his U18 C1 title at the Oceania’s in Sydney.
Oliver Puchner had C1 and K1 semi-final finishes at the U18 World Championships and won the European Canoe Association C1 Junior Cup.
Finn Anderson represented New Zealand at the Youth Olympics in Argentina and came away with a Silver Medal in the C1 Obstacle Slalom event. An impressive season for our local paddlers.
This local strength blossoms from a dedicated club structure. Canoe Slalom Bay of Plenty (CSBOP) has three full-time international coaches supported by a robust parent-run administration that operates a highly professional training and racing programme.
Testament to the growth of the sport and the calibre of the New Zealand infrastructure has been the securing of the hosting rights to the Junior and U23 World Championship in Auckland in 2021. It has also been awesome to see the inclusion of canoe slalom and sprint at the Anchor AIMS Games, further encouraging the growth of paddle sports.
We hope that with Vector Wero White Water Park in Auckland and increasing support for canoe slalom in the provinces we will see similar club level depth develop around NZ and further international success. The future looks bright!
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