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A big weekend of paddling has finished up for the Australian Canoe Kayak Team at the World Championships in Szeged, Hungary. With both the Canoe Sprint Team and Paracanoe team competing for Olympic and Paralympic qualification there was a lot on the line. Four paracanoeists locked in slots for Tokyo with Curtis McGrath also defending his two World Championships in the men’s KL2 200 and VL3 200 making it nine and ten World Championships. This was on a special weekend which marked the seven-year anniversary of his survival of an IED blast in Afghanistan.
Dylan Littlehales claimed another spot for the para team with a fourth-place finish in the men’s KL3 200. Missing out on the podium by only 0.09 seconds, Littlehales said “I’m happy with my performance. It wasn’t the result I was aiming for, but you can’t control what everyone else does and I went out and had a great race, did a good time and just missed the podium but that’s a part of sport. Most importantly, I got the Paralympic quota to end a successful year.”
Susan Seipel secured results in the women’s VL2 and KL2, winning silver and bronze respectively and secured another spot in Tokyo for the para team. Amanda Reynolds managed to lock in the fourth spot for Australia with a seventh place in the women’s KL3. This was outside the top six qualifying boats, but two British boats in the top six meant Australia followed as the next highest ranked country to qualify. The four qualified spots mean that the four Australian paracanoe athletes will be able to compete in six Para events in Tokyo.
At the same time the Sprint Canoe team secured Tokyo spots thanks to the men’s and women’s K4 and men’s K2. Jordan Wood and Riley Fitzsimmons took it to the best pairs in the world and finished fifth, securing qualification for 2 athletes to head to Tokyo. The men’s K4 bounced back after missing out on the A final by winning the B-final and claiming spots in Tokyo. The women’s K4 who made their A-final placed seventh matching their performance from last years World Championships and securing more tickets to Tokyo.
776BC athlete Alyce Burnett said “We got seventh, and we were happy with our race, but we would have preferred to be much higher.” With the spots to Tokyo now booked the athletes look to securing their individual spots in the Australia Olympic team before they come together again to train for their team events with their sights full set on success in Tokyo.