National Sprint Championships Preview

General / Mar 25, 2014

Racing will commence on Wednesday and conclude on Sunday at the West Lakes Canoe Club.

252 athletes will compete at Nationals with the event doubling as selection for the 2014 Senior, Junior and Olympic Hopes teams.

2012 Olympic gold medalists Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear will headline a strong field.

The bulk of the quad will be out to win their fifth consecutive National K4 1000 title.

On the back of their success in 2012 they backed it up last year to win bronze at the World Championships in Germany.

27 year old member David Smith has been happy with the team’s preparation.

“This domestic season we’ve kept it pretty low key, but we have done a lot more team boat training than we did last year, which is a good thing,” Smith said.

“But it doesn’t really matter what we do, what level we’re at, as long as we execute our plan. But we’re expecting to have a good race, to set us up for the International circuit.”

The K4 1000 event will feature on the opening day alongside the mens K1 1000 and K2 1000, and womens 500 metre events.

Ken Wallace and Stewart will resume their rivalry in the K1 1000.

Wallace produced one of his finest seasons in a kayak in 2013 finishing second at the ICF World Championships in Germany.

Wallace will be looking to make it back to back Nationals titles but will face strong competition from Stewart who has started the year in good form which was highlighted by victory at the Oceania Championships earlier in the month.

Other strong contenders in the mens premier event include K4 anchor Clear, and U23 stars Jordan Wood and Bill Bain.

The K2 1000 event looks set to be a beauty with Stewart and Clear narrow favourites ahead of Wallace and Smith.

K4 skipper Tate Smith and Western Australian Daniel Bowker, and U23 duo Wood and Glenn Rypp of Holdfast Bay will be other crews capable of coursing an upset.

The race for the senior K1 500 and K1 200 womens berths appear its most open in years with Western Australian Alana Nicholls, former Ironwoman Naomi Flood, Bernadette Wallace of Currumbin Creek, Sydney Northern Beaches’ kayaker Jo Brigden-Jones and Sunshine Coast paddler Alyce Burnett all in contention for the coveted K1 National titles.

NSWIS pair Brigden-Jones and Flood will be the ones to beat in the ladies K2 500 direct final on Thursday.

On paper the K2 500 looks set to be a fascinating race with some exciting boat combinations.

Nicholls will team up with fellow Western Australian Jaime Roberts, while Mitta Mitta kayaker Amy Peters will partner 2013 World Cup star Bernadette Wallace.

With U23 selection already sewn up the crews of Burnett and Cat McArthur, and Alyssa Bull and Rebecca Mann will be looking to push their more senior competitors.

The K4 500 is expected to be dominated by senior quartet Brigden-Jones, Nicholls, Flood and Wallace.

Canning River sprinter Steve Bird will be looking to make in back to back K1 200 National titles in Adelaide.

It will be a tough challenge as just 0.78 seconds separated the top six boats in 2013.

Bird’s man opposition will come from last year’s runner up Lachlan Tame, fellow Western Australian duo Jesse Phillips and Brodie Holmes, and 1000 metre specialists Stewart and Wallace.

Local West Lakes’ paddler Callum Dunn leads an impressive crop of U23 athletes including Victorian Kieren Carson and Ben McLean of Sydney Northern Beaches who will be looking to challenge their senior rivals in Adelaide.

London Olympic pairing Bird and Phillips will be the boat to beat in the K2 200 event where they will be going for their fifth consecutive National title.

Crews likely to challenge include Tame and Wallace, Holmes and fellow Western Australian Todd Brewer, Ben Gallard and Tim Donkin, Dunn and Carson and U23 Oceania champions Robert McIntyre and Mark Stowe.

The canoeists will also race off for places in the senior team.

Brothers Canoe Club pair Jake Donaghey and Alex Haas have a stranglehold of the C2 1000 event and are likely to fight it out for the C1 1000 and C1 200 events.

Other athletes in contention include veteran Marius Florian, local paddler Jason Nejman, Victorian Steven Vegh and Rain Metsoja of Varsity Lakes.

Bill Bain will also make his first start in the C1 200 event.

PARACANOE will also feature on the programme with the Paralympic distance, the 200 metres to be raced on Friday.

2013 senior quintet Brock Ingram (LTA), Colin Sieders (A), Glenn Pyne (TA), Kara Kennedy (A) and Amanda Reynolds (LTA) will be the paddlers to beat.

As always much intrigue surrounds who will come through and make this year’s team with just two years until paracanoe will make its debut at the Paralympics in Brazil.

Varsity Lakes’ kayaker Curtis McGrath will be one of the athletes to watch in V1 200 event where he will be hoping to become the first person in his class to record a sub 50 second time.

McGrath hails from a military background and lost two legs while serving his country. Remarkably he has only been paddling since January and is already under Worlds qualifying time.

Other battles to follow closely include Sunshine Coast kayaker David Parry and local paddler Sam Germein in the K1 TA class, and Reynolds and Melissa Sullivan in the LTA class.

Queensland teenagers Andrew Stiles (16) and Erin Baker (15) lead the younger generation and will be looking to bridge the gap to the senior athletes in Adelaide.

Racing will commence tomorrow morning from 8:30am local time.

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