After concluding a first World Cup that was filled with excitement and anxiety, Canoe Sprint paddlers are now headed to Duisburg, Germany where the second World Cup of the season will be held from 25-27 May. More than 400 paddlers from 57 countries will be competing on the well established Wedau Regatta Course in Sportpark, Duisburg.
While the last opportunity to win additional places at this summer’s Olympic Games was at the European Olympic Qualifiers in Poznan last week, some National Federations are yet to put a name to the boat and this exercise will continue in Duisburg this weekend.
Hot in the mix of Olympic team selections are Great Britain’s Tim Brabants and Paul Wycherley who are locked in an on-going battle for the single Men’s K1 1000m Olympic place which is up for grabs. Brabants had won Team GB’s opening regatta in Nottingham last month but finished in fourth place in Poznan last weekend in a tough semi-final draw that took him to the Final B of the event.
Wycherley on the other hand finished second in his semi final and went on to race in the final A, leveling them on points. The agony of Olympic selection for both athletes will be decided in Duisburg this weekend.
John Anderson, GB performance director, said,
Paul paddled well to make the final, so the battle between Tim and Paul will now continue to Duisburg next weekend, which will undoubtedly make for an exciting climax to selection
Brabants commented, "I was in the toughest of the four semis, with a changing head wind playing havoc with the finish times, but I didn't race so well this time.”
"But I had a good B final, even though strong head winds made for slow times. I'm feeling better every time I race and will just have to make it happen in Duisburg this week."
For paddlers that have already been selected to their Olympic team, the World Cups particularly the first one, tends to be used as a “warm up exercise” for the season, it is also an event where paddlers can gauge who their competition could be at the Olympic Games.
South Africa’s Bridgitte Hartley who carries realistic medal hopes for her country and continent at the Olympic Games, said from Duisburg, “Weather conditions here are better than they were in Poznan, not so many paddlers have arrived yet but I am looking forward to the competition as everyone has now warmed up.”
“Doing so well in the A final last weekend has really spurred me on to do well in Duisburg.”
Revving up the competition this weekend will be the Hungarian team who were not present at last week’s competition because of national selection trials. Current Men’s C1 1000m world champion Attila Vajda begins his season campaign competing in both the 1000m and 200m distances, he will be facing tough challenges from local hero Sebastian Brendel in the 1000m and the surprise winner of the 200m Andrei Kraytor (AZE) - who last weekend shocked the favourite to win Ivan Shtyl (RUS).
Back in action after a season away is Natasa Janics (HUN). She will be competing in the K1 200m, an event she has medalled in dozens of time already. Janics will also be pairing up with her longtime partner Katalin Kovaks in the K2 500m but competition in the K2 500m will be plentiful as the duo will have to outperform their teammates Gabriella Szabor and Tamara Csipes and Poznan World Cup race winner Franziska Weber and Tina Dietza (GER) if they are to reclaim their status as the boat to beat anywhere and everywhere. Not to be counted out of the showdown is the Austrian duo of Yvonne Schuring and Viktoria Schwartz. The current world champions did not medal in any of the distances they raced last weekend, but with their 500m world title in hand they will be looking to make a statement of intent ahead of the Olympic Games.
Duisburg has hosted many Canoe Sprint competitions but this event in particular is of great importance because it is held in an Olympic year and keen eyes will be drawn to the competition as the race to London 2012 continues.
Event website: www.kanuduisburg.de