CANOE SPRINT racing will return to Australian shores this Friday when the West Lakes Canoe Club in Adelaide hosts Grand Prix 1 from 5 to 7 December.
127 athletes will compete in 87 events across three days with the 1000 metre distance up first on Friday. The 500 and 200 metre events will follow on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Despite having no bearing on National selection, most of Australia’s big names will be in action including Paracanoe World Champion Curtis McGrath, K2 1000 World Championship silver medallists Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame, and Bayswater paddler Alana Nicholls.
GP1 will also feature a host of promising junior athletes.
Lane draws and race schedules are available on the AC Regattas website.
McGrath embarks on second domestic season
Paracanoe world champion Curtis McGrath will commence his second domestic season at Grand Prix 1 in Adelaide this Friday.
When he reflects on 2014 he describes it as “pretty amazing” and rightly so.
The 26 year old won the V1 200 TA gold at the Paracanoe World Championships in record time. The historic win followed victories at the Oceania and National Championships.
The accolades followed with the New Zealand born paddler winning the Australian Canoeing Paracanoeist of the Year and people’s choice awards, as well as the Athlete of the Year with a disability at the Queensland Sports awards.
A remarkable feat when you consider the challenges he faced initially when he made his racing debut at the Queensland Championships in January.
“At that stage I was having trouble going in a straight line so I was just worried about finishing in my lane,” McGrath said.
Fast forward 12 months and he is on track to achieve his goal of competing at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.
A goal he declared while he laid on a stretcher after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
2015 will be a big year for McGrath and his Australian teammates with Olympic and Paralympic boat quotas up for grabs at the world championships.
Compared to a year earlier McGrath knows what to expect and will be using GP1 to measure where he is at compared to his fellow paddlers.
“This event is all about just doing the best that I can,” he said.
“It is really a benchmark competition to see whether I am on track, where I am at compared to the rest and what areas I can improve in.”
McGrath will contest the V1 200, V1 500 and V1 1000 events over the course of the event.