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Canoe Kayak Sprint Wrap: Hopes for vengeance in 2020

24 August 2016

CANOE/KAYAK SPRINT: Australia’s sprint canoe team leader says Australia’s top paddlers will be back with a vengeance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after finishing with one bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro.

Richard Fox admitted that the results were not what the sprint canoe and kayak section had hoped for but they were proud of the journey and the new talent coming through the system.

“It is disappointing, we aimed for more but it’s hard out there and we have seen that across a range of sports. There have been some great positives with the girls in the K2 500m and Steve Bird in the K1 200m finals while Murray Stewart was fourth in the K1 1000m, the best he’s been since Beijing," said Fox.

“Come Tokyo, we’ll be back with a vengeance and hopefully with a stronger squad of women. Overall the outcome wasn’t as good as we wanted, we hoped for three medals in sprint, and one of them gold, but we have one bronze and two fourth so it’s not a complete disaster, but it is below par,” admitted Fox.

Overall Australia made five A-Finals in the canoe regatta, with one bronze medal being snapped up by Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame in the K2 1000m. Three-time Olympian Wallace partnered up with debutant Tame to win Australia’s only canoe sprint medal of the event.

Despite only one medal being won, there were plenty of positives to take from the week of racing including the impressive performances by Alyce Burnett and Alyssa Bull in the K2 500m. The athletes, who are only 24 and 20 years-old respectively, raced valiantly throughout their debut Games and made their first Olympic final in their event.

Meanwhile, two-time Olympian Stephen Bird smashed his personal best time, twice, in the K1 200m, while also making his first ever A-Final in that race class.

There were Olympic debuts from Riley Fitzsimmons, Jordan Wood and Daniel Bowker, with Fitzsimmons and Wood finishing fourth in the men’s K4 1000m alongside Wallace and Jacob Clear. Meanwhile, Wood and Bowker teamed up in the K2 1000m where they contested the B-Final.

Fox admitted there were things to work on ahead of the next Olympiad.

“Every race is tough in the 1000m, we are just a little bit short, we have some stuff to go away and work on. We have renewal [with the new young athletes coming through] and that is something that is inspiring and will hopefully bring more as we move forward to Tokyo."

Australia’s other female paddler, Naomi Flood, competed in the women’s K1 500m, in what may be the two-time Olympians final Games. Flood, who made raced the semi-finals, before missing out on a place in the A-Final, will take some time post-Games to decide on whether she will aim for Tokyo

Finally, in the canoe events, Martin Marinov made his fifth Olympic Games, competing in the C1 1000m and also the C2 1000m, competing in the latter with Olympic debutant Ferenc Szekszardi. While not getting the results that they had hoped for, the pair rounded off the week ranked 10th overall in the world. Szekzardi also raced the C1 200m, but did not make the finals.

Lucy Benjamin 

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