Prskavec and Grigar headline a strong K1M field

Canoe Slalom / Apr 17, 2014

World number 11 Jiri Prskavec will be the man to beat in the U23 K1M event.

The Czech star produced a fantastic season in 2013 which was capped off by winning silver at the senior World Championships in front of his home crowd in Prague.

At last year’s U23 World Championships he was outclassed by Frenchman Mathieu Biazizzo. 

The world number 22 will face a tough battle to defend his title this year.

Slovakian Martin Halcin and Italian Giovanni De Gennaro are World Cup regulars and will be out to upstage their more fancied opponents.

De Gennaro also featured alongside Prskavec in the senior Worlds final last year, finishing tenth.

Melbourne Canoe Club kayaker Jaxon Merritt heads into the event in career best form after taking out the Oceania Championship earlier in the year.

Merritt is eager to improve on his ninth place finish at last year’s U23 Worlds in Slovakia, with this year his last in the age group.

Fellow Victorian Tim Anderson and Tasmanian Daniel Watkins will join Merritt to represent Australia in the U23 K1M event.

Anderson, 19, will contest his second U23 World Championships and will be looking to improve on his 41st placing last year.

Watkins steps up to the U23 age category this year following an impressive junior career which included victory at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in 2012.

Merritt and Watkins will also contest the U23 C1 event which will be previewed on Friday.

The Junior K1M competition will see 52 athletes go head to head down the Sydney Olympic course.

Defending champion Jacob Grigar of Slovakia will be the man to beat.

Grigar enters the event as the only junior kayaker inside the top 100 in the ICF Rankings.

Ranked 75, Grigar is a clear favourite but can expect a healthy rivalry with Callum Gilbert of New Zealand, Slovenian Vid Karner, Canadian Ryley Penner and Samuel Stanovsky of Latvia.

Gilbert in particular will be confident of upstaging the Slovak as he is very familiar with the setup in Penrith.

The Bay of Plenty paddler was the standout junior performer at the Australian Open and Oceania Championships where he earmarked himself as a future star.

Another who knows the course exceptionally well is local favourite Angus Thompson.

The 17 year old is Australia’s highest ranked K1M junior, 353 in the world.

Thompson finished 21st last year is a hoping to move up at least five spots this year.

Joining him to fly the Australian flag will be fellow Penrith kayaker Lachlan Croft and Melbourne's Tristan Carter.

The U23 K1M heats will get the ICF Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships underway on Wednesday 23rd April at 9am local time.

Profiles for all the Australian athletes competing have been published on the Australian Canoeing website. To read the profiles and for more important race information please follow the links below.