2013 National Sprint Championships
Western Australian Olympians Alana Nicholls, Steve Bird and Jesse Phillips head into Saturday's 200m finals eyeing off back to back national titles after an exciting day three of racing at the National Sprint Championships in Perth, WA.
26 year old Bayswater star Alana Nicholls will be confident of adding the women’s K1 200 title tomorrow to her K1 500 triumph yesterday, after qualifying fastest from this afternoon’s semi finals at the Champion Lakes Regatta course.
Nicholls will face stiff competition from New South Wales paddler Jo Brigden-Jones, who has finally overcome shoulder issues and is determined to recapture the form that saw her finish third at the ICF World Cup in Szeged, Hungary in 2010.
"It's been a couple of years since my shoulder surgery, so I feel like I'm back on track now," she Brigden-Jones.
"I still haven't reached the heights I reached back in 2010, but I feel like I'm getting back there with every race I have. I feel like my 200 is more on track than my 500."
Joining them in the K1 200 final tomorrow will be Sunshine Coast duo Alyce Burnett and Rachel Lovell, Hailey McGinty of Kawana Waters, Currumbin Creek’s Bernadette Wallace and Western Australian duo Jaime Roberts and Jaymee-Lee Martin.
The men’s K1 200 final promises to be one hell of a battle tomorrow with less than half a second separating the top six fastest qualifiers, following three exciting semi finals.
London K2 200 Olympian Steve Bird qualified fastest, crossing the line in 35.43 to win the first semi final ahead of NSWIS paddler Lachlan Tame, and fellow WAIS Olympian Jesse Phillips.
Queensland duo Ken Wallace and Matt Urquhart won the second and third semi finals respectively, and alongside triple reigning champion Murray Stewart, join Bird in favouritism heading into tomorrow’s showdown.
"I'm not starting as well as I would like at the moment, but we'll wait and see how it goes tomorrow,” said Stewart.
"You always want to defend a title, but I'm not too concerned. My priority is definitely the 1000, and that's out of the way, so there's a bit more fun in the 200. But it would be nice to defend the title."
Bird and Phillips have qualified fastest for tomorrow’s K2 200 final after victory in their semi final this afternoon.
In their first competitive hit out in the K2 together this year, the Western Australian pair took out the second semi final in 32.33, ensuring that they get a strong lane draw for tomorrow’s final.
They defeated fellow Western Australian duo Brodie Holmes and Todd Brewer by 0.51 seconds, with Stewart and fellow K4 1000 gold medallist Tate Smith finishing third, 0.50 seconds further adrift.
The K2 Olympic crew biggest rivals for this year’s national title will come from the red hot Ken Wallace who won yesterday’s K1 1000 and emerging New South Welshman Lachlan Tame, who is keen to secure is maiden senior team berth in this year.
In the canoeing events, Bayswater’s Laszlo Foltan qualified fastest for the men’s C1 200 final, after upstaging Queensland Olympian Alex Haas in his heat.
Foltan won in 41.62, 1.97 seconds ahead of Haas, with Direct Members Rain Metsoja finishing third, 6.54 seconds behind the winning heat time.
Fellow Western Australian Ferenc Szekszardi won the second heat in 44.95, 0.28 seconds ahead of Brothers canoeist Jake Donaghey, and C1 1000 winner Marius Florian.
The men’s U23 K1 200 final will have an international flair with two of the three quickest qualifiers from overseas.
South Korea’s Minkyu Choi will be the one to beat after setting a blistering time of 36.85 to win the second semi final, more importantly two seconds quicker the semi final one winner Robert McIntyre of NSW, while Canada’s Jeffry Ralphs won semi final three.
In the only U23 final for the day McIntyre combined with Southside Paddlers Arnold Graf and Sam Speer, and Tasmanian Canoe Club paddler Tom Norton to win the K4 200 title.
The quartet won in 34.18, 0.69 seconds ahead of Perth Paddlers Mitchell Jenkinson, Taylor McCormack of Tasmania, and Mercantile pair Tim Arnold and Tom Hedditch.
Patterson Lakes duo Kieren Carson and Jarrad Campbell have continued their excellent start to 2013 after impressing at the Grand Prix 3 Regatta at Sydney International Regatta Centre last month qualifying fastest for the men’s U18 K2 200 final tomorrow.
The Victorian duo got off to a great start, crossing the line in 34.74, 1.30 seconds ahead of Western Australian pair Alexander Graham and Nicholas Pond.
Looking to throw down the challenge will be Direct Members’ Sean Lohse and Jared Lee of West Lakes, who won the other semi final in 35.03, 1.66 seconds ahead of the Southside Paddlers crew of Mitchell Hughes and Robert Berzins.
Victoria continued to dominate the U18 category with Bendigo’s Rebecca Mann once again in prime position for another national title, after triumphing in the U18 K1 and K2 500 events yesterday.
Mann narrowly edged out a fast finishing Josephine Bulmer (SA) to win her semi final in 43.73.
Bayswater’s Shannon Reynolds, Deandra Godoy of Sydney Northern Beaches, Bendigo’s Madeleine Batters and West Lakes Madison Davies were also amongst the athletes to finish their semi finals in the top two, and who will look to challenge Mann on Saturday.
Mann also combined with Kawana Waters’ Alyssa Bull to qualify fastest for tomorrow U18 K2 200 final. The Victorian duo will face strong competition in the final from fellow semi final winners Reynolds and Davies.
Racing continues tomorrow from 8am local time with the 200m Paracanoe events to get the action underway, where the likes of Western Australian Brock Ingram and Queensland’s Kara Kennedy will be looking to defend their National titles.
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