Giant strides have been taken in the past 12 months with record numbers competing in the C1W discipline which is chasing inclusion at Olympic level.
New South Wales duo Jessica Fox and Rosalyn Lawrence have been at the forefront of the competition since its inception.
Fox reigned supreme during last year’s domestic season claiming the National Championships title in Victoria before going on to win the Australian Open title in Penrith.
The 19 year old produced a simply stellar year in women’s C1 winning gold at the ICF World Championships. Additionally Fox was awarded the ICF World Cup C1W champion following victories at four of the five World Cup races in Augsburg, La Seu d’Urgell, Tacen and Bratislava.
The Penrith paddler also won gold at the ICF U23 World Championships in Slovakia.
Rosalyn Lawrence will fancy her chances of upstaging Fox. Lawrence herself is a former ICF World Cup C1W champion after she produced a breakout year in 2011 when she was awarded the Australian Canoeing Athlete of the Year.
The 24 year old finished fifth behind Fox at last year’s World Championships and was a consistent finalist at World Cup level. Her best result came in Tacen finishing fourth.
Asked how her preparation has been she responded, “I've done some solid work on my technique over the last few months and am feeling well prepared for the race.”
A passionate advocate for gender equity, Lawrence is not satisfied by the current state of C1W internationally.
“I have heard that some countries, like Slovakia, have now got a development program in place for C1W because the ICF (International Canoe Federation) came out with a solid statement to say they will support the inclusion of C1W at the 2020 Tokyo games. Unfortunately the ICF and countries that weren't already developing C1 are years behind the rest of us, and I'm not satisfied with their commitment to gender equity.”
Local product Alison Borrows will be another athlete to follow closely after making her debut on the senior C1W team in 2013.
The 21 year old combined with Fox and Lawrence to win gold in the C1W Teams event at the ICF World Championships. Her best World Cup performance came in Cardiff finishing fourth.
With Penrith set to stage the ICF Junior and U23 World Championships in April, a strong emphasis will be on these competitions as the selection battle heats up.
Fox and Borrows will be the main contenders for an U23 berth.
Melbourne Canoe Club paddler Maggie Webster will be another to watch following a successful junior career.
Webster made her debut at the U23 World Championships last year finishing 23rd and will be looking to push for a top five finish this weekend to keep her in the frame for national selection once again this year.
In the junior ranks Penrith duo Noemie Fox and Alexandra Broome, and Western Australian Georgia Rankin were the members of last year’s junior C1W team.
They finished 11th (Fox), 12th (Rankin) and 19th (Broome) at the Junior World Championships and headline an impressive group of younger athletes including Tasmanian Kate Eckhardt and Isabella Choate. Eckhardt and Choate recently competed at the National Schools Championships in the lead up to the Australian Open.
Tomorrow we will preview the K1W event. Please follow the links below for more information.