European Team Champions

Yesterday was the last day of racing at the 2012 European Canoe Slalom Championships in Augsburg, Germany. The weather cleared up nicely after the heavy rain on Saturday and thus the stage was set for an exciting days racing.

Unfortunately our individual semi-final run didn't go quite as we had hoped. We posted the fastest raw time which was good but the aim of canoe slalom is Fast AND Clean and we fell down on the second part by collecting three 2sec penalties for gate touches. This left us one place outside the final in 11th position. A disappointing outcome from what had been an exciting run but, well, that's racing. The touches were all small misjudgements so shouldn't be a big deal to fix and it was reassuring to have good pace at our first international of the season.

Spectating for the Finals is a disappointing place to be but the racing was so exciting we couldn't sulk for too long. The jumbo TV screen made it possible to watch the whole of each paddlers run and the classic, agonisingly long, Augsburg finish sprint kept you on the edge of your seat as paddlers raced to stop the clock. In the WK1 Final Fiona Pennie put down an awesome run to grab a Bronze medal for GB, well done Fiona!

In the Mens C2 final our teammates Florence/Hounslow had won the Semi-Final and so were last off in the Final. Before the Final started I would have guessed a 108 clean would probably medal but as the racing unfolded it became clear that the pace was moving on a bit with a number of very fast clean runs. Dave and Rich responded to the situation and would have been on for a medal with a really quick run until they lost some time in the tricky last upstream gate. As it was they finished a still impressive fourth (within a second of Bronze) in a very high quality final. Congratulations to them and to Volf/Stepanek, Hochschorner/Hochschorner and Behling/Becker who finished Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively.

With all the individual racing completed it was time for the crowd's favourite, the team race! The Mens C2 team race was the last event of the championships and so we had the opportunity to learn from the carnage that had unfolded in the other team races. In particular the difficult last breakout had been the downfall of many teams so we opted for a low risk strategy of tackling the gate individually rather than overlapping on it. In execution this strategy worked out really well and with good individual paddling from all three crews we managed to win the race :).

It was really nice to finish the championship on a high note and get to stand on the top step of the podium for our national anthem. It was obvious that we weren't that used to it since we thought the anthem had finished after the first verse and most of us cheered and then had to stand there sheepishly chuckling for another few minutes, there's some funny video of it somewhere. Also amusing was the fact that due to some quirk of TV scheduling the C2 Team medal ceremony was after the championships had been officially closed so perhaps that means we're Team Champions for next year already??? or in limbo? who knows...

Part of what makes winning team medals cool is that you get to share the experience with more of your mates, particularly in C2, so a hearty CHEERS to our teammates Florence/Hounslow and Burgess/Pitt. It's a shame that team racing isn't part of the Olympics since it would be an amazing spectacle on the Lee Valley course but it would obviously triple the athlete quota requirements which I don't think the Organisers would like... ah well, maybe one day.

Once again we enjoyed very vocal support from the traveling GB family and friends as well as our teammates so thanks very much everyone for that.

Next up for us is a bit of a UK road trip since the Olympic venue here in Lee Valley is closed due to construction work. This week we are heading up to Nottingham to train and then next week we'll be in Cardiff working on our 'Home Advantage' for the World Cup there in June.

Cheers Tim

P.S. Thanks to Georgie for the photos.

(Posted on the 14th May 2012)
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