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Australia's rapid rise to the top

18 January 2013

CANOE/KAYAK – SLALOM – Australia dominated the heats on the opening day of the AYOF slalom competition.

The men’s and women’s K1 and the men’s and women’s C1 events got underway at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium on Friday.

Victorian paddler Timothy Anderson sailed through the K1 course with a sweeping time of 86.78 seconds and zero penalties.

Anderson is confident and pleased with his efforts so far.

“It was a pretty solid first round with no penalties. It’s all pretty exciting to see the international competition and I think I did well for the first K1,” he said.

Anderson was followed by teammate Daniel Watkins (87.18) and New Zealand’s Finn Butcher (87.46).

The men’s C1 also showcased Australia’s talents with Tasmania’s Andrew Eckhardt qualifying fastest in 95.27 seconds with zero penalties.

The 18-year-old is also enjoying the course and hopes to improve his even further in the second round.

“It was good, but hopefully for the next round I can go faster and sail through more smoothly,” he said.

Eckhardt was followed by Watkins who finished in 94.32 seconds, but received a four second penalty, and China’s Jiaxi Huang who reached the finish line in 99.57 seconds.

Australian paddlers also took out the top spots in the women’s qualification runs.

Eckhardt’s younger sister, Kate, recorded the best run in the K1 event with 100.96 seconds, ahead of teammates Noemie Fox (101.09) and Georgia Rankin (102.79).

New Zealand’s Anna Higgins and Jessica Bailey snuck up to claim fourth and fifth positions in the K1.

“I’m pretty stoked to be here and I’m really pleased with how I did. It was better than what I was expecting,” Bailey said.

With her Olympian sister Jessica Fox cheering on from the sidelines, Noemie Fox qualified fastest (115.13 seconds, zero penalties) in the C1 event.

“I think the C1 was a better run for me, and I’m really happy with my score. It’s all a lot of fun and really good competition especially amongst the Aussie girls. It’s fun to try and battle each other out for the top spot,” Fox said.

Fox was followed by teammates Margaret Webster who sailed to a time of 116.40 with a four second penalty and Eckhardt who received 112.83 with an eight second penalty.

The semi-finals and finals get underway at 8am on Saturday.

Joline Samawi

Follow the AYOF on Twitter @AYOF2013   # AYOF2013   #RoadtoRio

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