Most of Australia’s Olympic and Paralympic sprint canoe squad will hit the water for the first time competitively next week at the Australian National titles in Penrith.
Olympic bronze medallists, Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame, and Paralympic medallists Curtis McGrath (gold), Amanda Reynolds (silver) and Susan Seipel (bronze) will all be looking to impress ahead of selections for this year’s World Cups and World Championships.
Several of the Rio Olympians, including women’s K2 500 crew Alyce Burnett and Alyssa Bull, and K4 crew members Jordan Wood and Riley Fitzsimmons, have already had hit outs in domestic Grand Prix events.
But for others, like Rio K1 1000 paddler, Murray Stewart, and K4 1000 crew member, Jacob Clear, next week will be their first serious hit-out since finishing close fourths in their respective events at the Games.
Wallace and Tame have also only just returned to training together since finishing third in the K2 1000 in Rio, and have opted to skip that event next week. They will compete together in the shorter K2 500 and K2 200.
By contrast Wood and Fitzsimmons have a full program of events, as they look ahead to not only the senior World Championships, but also their defence of the U23 K2 1000 title.
Wood said he’s battled illness since last month’s Grand Prix last month, but feels he’s ready for next week. He has been paddling individual and team events in the Grand Prix’s, but has a preference for the latter.
“Post Rio was great, it was really nice to have a big break and recoup,” he said.
“But it wasn’t hard for me to get back into it. I’m still doing the same stuff.
“I would like to stay in team boats. I’ll go into this week hoping to do the best I can after being crook since the second Grand Prix.”
The Australian Nationals start on Sunday at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith, and run through until Thursday.