Two dozen of Australia’s most exciting young sprint canoeists will take to the water this weekend to compete in the World Junior and U23 Championships in Minsk, Belarus, all with an eye to making their Olympic debut in 2020.
While some of the Australian team, like flag bearer Callum Dunn and 1000 metre specialist, Bill Bain, went close to qualifying for Rio next month, all of the Australian team competing this weekend will be expected to challenge for Olympic places in Tokyo.
“This year of racing has been so incredible,” K1 and K4 500 paddler, Brianna Massie, said this week.
“The nerves and tension from the senior paddlers has made each and every regatta so intense. It has been great to watch the processes that the Australian team has gone through to get that Olympic berth, and it excites me that it could be my turn next.
“The Olympics just brings about this overall sense of excitement and drive because it is the goal of most paddlers.”
Bain will focus on just the K1 1000 in Minsk, and will be out to prove a point after just missing final Olympic qualification for a second time.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle of the sport, so to say you don’t feel something special as a participant of this sport would be a lie,” he said.
“It’s tough for myself, as 2016 is really the second time I have been right on the cusp of that group who get to line up for this great country.
“But it’s also exciting to see who’s going to be able to perform on the day at the Games, as in all the events, there is a handful who on their day can deliver.”
And Bain said the events of the past month have given this year’s Olympics an extra sense of intrigue.
“With the current doping relating issues within the kayaking community, this Olympic Games will provide a new set of heroes and idols that may otherwise have never had the chance to shine,” he said.
Like many of Australia’s best sprint canoeists, both Massie and Bain have come from a surf lifesaving background. After both turned to sprint canoe to sharpen up their surf ski skills, they quickly fell in love with the sport and have not looked back since.
Massie has been in the sport for three years, and hopes to emulate the achievements of her Maroochydore teammate, Alyce Burnett, who will be making her Olympic debut next month.
“Making an Australian team to compete at a World Championships means the opportunity to represent my country on a world stage and put all of the hard work from myself and my support team on show,” Massie said.
“There is nothing more special than putting on the green and gold and fighting to cross that line in the fastest possible time.
“I grew up in Maroochydore surf club and saw what Alyce Burnett had done, and wanted to be as great as her.”
Bain has been around for a bit longer, currently enjoying his eighth season in sprint canoe. He said he could never grow tired of travelling the world to compete for your country.
“I guess sometimes I forget what it means to actually make the Australian team,” Bain said.
“Once you’ve made a couple of teams it becomes an expectation of yourself as one step of many on he road to a podium and winning world titles.
“The first team I made is always going to be the most exciting moment as we are taught to stay modest and reserved about our emotions as we grow older. But I just couldn’t contain myself that first time, hearing your name, new friends, first time overseas for most.
“I have so many great memories from trips overseas with Australian teams.”
The Junior and U23 World Championships begin Thursday and run through until Sunday. The full Australian team is;
Boys – Jnr
K1 1000 – Reece Bacchus
K2 1000 – Jakob Hammond / Joshua Jones Rew
K4 1000 – Luke Morton/ Jakob Hammond/ Oliver James/ Joshua Jones Rew
K1 200 – Ethan Neville
K2 200 – will not be contested
C1 1000 – Benjamin Manning
Girls – Jnr
K1 200 and K1 500 Ella Beere
K2 500 – Caitlin Burt Poloai/ Ruby Backen
K4 500 – Caitlin Burt Poloai/ Monique Carbone/ Jayde Bagnall/ Ruby Backen
K1 500 – Brianna Massie
K1 200 – Jacqueline Green
K2 500 – Francesca Kidd/ Rebecca Mann
K4 500 – Francesca Kidd/ Brianna Massie/ Rebecca Mann/ Rachel Duncan
C2 200 & 500 Josie Bulmer & Isabella Rositano
C1 200 & 500 Josie Bulmer
K1 1000 – Bill Bain
K2 1000 – Simon Mc Tavish/ Tom Norton
K4 1000 – Sean Lohse/ Jayden Ellis/ Tom Norton/ Simon Mc Tavish
K1 200 – Mark Stowe
K2 200 – Callum Dunn / Ben Mc Lean
C1 200/1000 – Charlie Kneebone-Ellis