Friday, 16 March 2012

Murray Stewart, leading Australian options for the K1 1.000 at London 2012

Murray Stewart crosses the finish line at the K1 1.000
On Wednesday started at the International Regatta Centre of Penrith (AUS), the Australian Sprint Championships, valid also as second Olympic trials for the Australian national Team. And what it already looked like a complicated situation for Ken Wallace in order to take the nomination to fight for the K1 1.000 berth at London 2012 has yesterday become rather more serious. For the third time this year, Murray Stewart has beaten him at the queen of disciplines, this time with a 3.54 seconds gap that looks too much for the Beijing's Olympic Champion to close in the next few weeks. Jacob Clear took the bronze just 0.05 behind Wallace. But what it would be a superb result for 99% of the paddlers, for Wallace it's on the edge of a tragedy, as Stewart's victory, in a worldclass time of 3'30"64, means his automatic nomination at the Australian Olympic Commitee, leading now the selection to fight for the Olympic berth at this distance. On the other hand, Wallace's chances get more difficult and he should then go for the K2 or maybe to wait for a seat at the already qualified K4, taking the place of David Smith, something that doesn't look likely to happen.

On day 1 of races, Wednesday, the Men K4 who already won the silver medal at World Championships in Szeged 2011 claimed victory and, as it has also won the first trials at the Oceanic Championships, deserved the right to go thorugh to the Games. But only three of the paddlers have the certainty to be at London: Tate Smith, Jacob Clear and Murray Stewart. But David Smith, fourth paddler, were not in the K4 winning the first trial, as he suffered from glandular fever, and was substituted by Ken Wallace, so now it's in the hands of the AOC selectors to decidde who will earn the place after the next World Cups. It looks pretty difficult that a spot situation as it was Smith's illness will make him loose a place where he has already demonstrated a first line performance throughout the last seasons. On the other hand, this door could be open for Wallace in case that Stewart achieves the qualification in K1 and he is the designed to paddle that discipline at London and is taken off from the K4, with Wallace in his place. A third way would always be trying the K2 qualification with the couple Stewart-Wallace, with the option of Jacob Clear in case Stewart earns the K1.

Obvoiously, this counts are not exclusive of Australia, as every country is having the same problems to accurately choose their paddlers for the Olympic Team, having in mind how fewer the places are and the strict criteria of the IOC about teams attendance at London. On the other hand, this means that we will enjoy a furious compettence at this spring World Cups in Europe...

Tha panorama is not much better for some of the Australian women, as they will need to fight for the K2  quota place, having only Alana Nicholls officialy qualified in the K1 and the K4 from the Szeged World Champs. Anyway, their candidates to the AOC in order to try the qualification are decided after these two first days at the Nationals: Naomi Flood and Lindsey Fogarty are nominated for the K2 500, even though they got silver after the New Zealand guests Lisa Carrington and Erin Taylor. After the final, Flood and Fogarty admitted that it won't be easy, but they trust having a margin to go faster in the next few weeks.

At the K4 500, winners of this Championships and also for the second time at the trials were Rachel Lovell, Hanna Davis, Jo Bridgen-Jones y Lindsey Fogarty, so it would be a surprise that they are not the chosen for London.

At the canoe, Marius Florian was the winer at the C1 1.000 beating in a closed final Jake Donaghey, who had won the first trial a fortnight ago, so both are now in the same position at the Olympic qualification race and will need to compete further more to take a decision. Anyway, Donaghey has already deserved the C2 place for the World Cups after his second vctory int the trials with his partner Alexander Haas, becoming Australian champions yesterday.

Still three days to go at Penrith Regatta course. So far, here you can check the official results for day 1 and day 2.

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