Matthew French in action
2012 Wildwater World Championships
Day 5 of the championships saw the sprint finals and sprint teams races.
Probably the extraordinary story of the championships was the bronze medal taken out by Great Britain's Ben Oakley. After the two heat runs he was sitting in 16th spot with only 15 going to the final.
Then all of a sudden the 4th fastest place getter Thomas Slovak from the Czech Republic was called to boat control and was disqualified for his boat being slightly under weight, this elevating Oakley to 15th spot and a place in the final.
He was the first men's K1 paddler off in the final and put down a smooth fast run. He then sat back and watched as better seeded paddler's made mistake after mistake and found himself in the lead for quite some time until Germany's Tobias Bong relegated him to second place with still 8 world class paddlers to come. Again many of the favorites were relegated down the Order until the World Champion Nejc Znidarcic took to the course and demonstrated in an emphatic fashion why he is the world champion with a convincing win by nearly 2 seconds. This meant than Ben Oakley retained 3rd spot having started the final series seeded 15th from the heats. This was a truly great result for Great Britain where men's K1 is normally dominated by the European mainland countries.
In the teams men's K1 Australia was represented by Stewart Bennett, Matthew French and Robert McIntyre. The Australian's put down a solid first round performance to be ranked 7th in the field of 16. In the second run mid field rankings were a tight affair between Australia, Great Britain, Switzerland and Serbia and unfortunately the Australian's were relegated back to 10th spot but gave a good account of themselves.
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