GB Team Selection Races 3 & 4

The final legs of GB Canoeing's team selection series were held on the Lee Valley course last weekend. Being pre-selected meant that it was more of a practice race for us, as opposed the do-or-die race that it was for most other people. This meant that it was a somewhat peculiar experience for us.

One of the main advantages of pre-selection is that you have one less peak to generate in a a season. This means that we can train for longer before our first major race (the Euros), or to look at it another way, catch up a bit on the training we missed in the post - Olympic craziness!

In effect therefore, we were racing a bit below full competitive sharpness, but in a race where we were the 'target men'. We didn't mind this, but it meant we had to be all the more disciplined in maintaining our focus and not getting caught up in the hoo-ha of being Olympic Champions. This was a good challenge (and one of the reasons we raced), as we imagine that there will be more interest in us this year, so we'll have to be clever in dealing with it.

In the end we won race 3, being pushed hard by Davies and Lister and came second in race 4. We 'lost' that race (we choose not to see it like that, but it's an easy word to use) by 0.01sec, which was a bit frustrating, but Burgess and Pitt raced very well to win. Their racing in the series was of a very high standard and they take a well deserved spot on the 2013 senior team. Overall the C2 scene looked very healthy over the races.

The men's kayak race was intense, Joe Clarke did a fantastic job to win the series, with Richard Hounslow showing battling quality to take the second spot. Huw Swetnam kept his dreams alive taking 3rd spot, but the charging runs of Tom Brady and fellow U23 racer Mikey Wilson were a pleasure to behold and showed true racing skill.

The women's kayak racing was dominated by Lizzie Neave, who showed her versatility and toughness. Fiona Pennie raced well into second, but the third spot provided some high drama. Beth Latham quietly chipped in some solid results and edged out Louise Donnington in a super close tie-break situation. It will be Beth's senior debut, but spare a thought for Louise, missing the team by such a margin must be heartbreaking, and is hard to watch. But credit to Beth, racing in that style will be a useful skill in future.

Men's canoe singles showed the true class of David Florence and Mark Proctor. David's abilities on the Lee Valley course make the men's kayaks sweat! Tom Quinn took the third spot with some very aggressive racing and showcased the strength of the U23 scene in the UK.

In women's C1, Mallory Franklin was so impressive on the Lee Valley course, her skills are improving and her racing was rock solid. Kim Woods took a well deserved second, also demonstrating excellent skills on the intense rapids. The third place battle was won by Alice Spencer.

All in all it was a great weekend of British canoeing. We signed a few autographs and a few people got to test the weight of a Gold medal, we raced as hard as we could and the other athletes put on a dynamic and professional show of racing skills. I enjoyed it and I hope the members of the public who came along did too.

The international season starts soon and I am excited to see how we and the whole team get on against the world's best. It should be very interesting and we'll keep you posted as best as we can! Bye for now!

(Posted on the 30th Apr 2013)
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