The ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup series will commence on Friday in Milan, Italy.
The event will be held from the 2-4 May with 38 countries from five continents in action.
Australia will field a team of 11 athletes for the first World Cup. The remaining squad members will join the team for the second ICF World Cup in the Czech Republic from 16-18 May.
2013 K1 1000 World Championship silver medalist Ken Wallace will lead a strong Australian outfit which also features fellow Olympic gold medalists Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear.
Wallace will once again race the coveted men’s K1 event alongside exciting Queensland prospect Jordan Wood.
Both Wallace and Wood will also feature in the non-Olympic K1 500 and K1 5000 events.
Stewart is Australia’s in form athlete having upstaged Wallace at the recent National and Oceania Championships to re-claim his mantle as the nations’ best 1000 metre paddler.
Stewart and fellow London K4 1000 gold medalist Clear will contest the K2 1000 event.
The pair will be looking to build on their fifth place finish at last year’s World Championships.
K1 200 specialist Lachlan Tame will commence his second season on the World Cup circuit.
The 25 year old won his first National K1 200 title in Adelaide earlier in the year. Tame finished 16th at the World Championships in Germany last year.
NSWIS kayaker Jo Brigden-Jones will make her long awaited return to international racing in Milan following an injury interrupted season in 2013.
“I am just super excited to be back in Europe”, said Brigden-Jones.
“It is what we train for, to test ourselves against the best people in the world”, she said.
The 26 year old will be looking to turn back to the clock to 2010 when she was ranked the number two women’s kayaker in the world.
“I really missed being away from international competition last year so it is really nice to be back in the scene.”
“I haven’t raced the K1’s internationally since 2010 so I am just looking to get my race experience back again and to see where I am at against the other girls and work out the areas for improvements for the next World Cup.”
Brigden-Jones dominated the National Championships earlier in the year winning four gold medals and will be one of the frontrunners in the K1W 200 event.
Fellow NSWIS athlete Naomi Flood and Western Australian Jaime Roberts will contest the K1W 500 in Milan.
Flood was narrowly beaten by Alana Nicholls at Nationals, but won the Oceania K1W 500 title earlier in the year and looks set for a big 2014.
Roberts will make her ICF World Cup debut in the Italian fashion capital.
Following a breakout season in 2013, Bernadette Wallace will start her World Cup campaign racing the non-Olympic K1W 1000 event.
Wallace thrives in the long distance events and will fancy her chances to featuring in the final come the weekend.
Brigden-Jones, Flood, Roberts and Wallace will also contest the K4W 500 event.
U23 pair Alyce Burnett of the Sunshine Coast and South Australian Cat McArthur will team up for the women’s K2 500 and K2 200 races.
“For us it is about putting our nose in the starting cone, trying to put all the little bits of our race together and then hopefully produce a result we are happy with”, Burnett said.
McArthur will be competing at her first senior international meet.
“I am mostly aiming to gain some experience from the event”, McArthur said.
“I am going out there with nothing to lose and giving it my all is the main plan.”
The women’s K1 500 and men’s K1 1000 heats will get the program underway on Friday morning from 9:00am local time (5:00pm AEST).
Official start lists are still to be finalised. Please follow the links below for more information.