Oceania Championships (24-26 February)
Who will make the London team? The Oceania Championships will be the last chance for slalom Olympic aspirants to stake their claim for selection for what is set to be a fast, tight and enthralling battle down the whitewater in Penrith with nothing separating the nationâ€™s top athletes.
A world class field containing seven Olympic gold medallists will contest the 2012 Oceania Championships in Penrith this weekend, where the provisional Australian Canoe Slalom Olympic team will be nominated.
The C1 men will get racing underway at 8am local EST with WAIS paddler Kynan Maley leading a charge of hungry C1 athletes looking to chase down Aus Open victor Matt Gabb and take the Olympic selection 2 event.
The women’s K1 heats will proceed from 8:55am where Victoria’s Sarah Grant, Lawrence sisters, Kate and Ros, and Australian Open silver medallist Jessica Fox will continue their rivalry as the action heats up in what promises to exciting first day of action with all four girls looking to come out on top, with the heats acting as selection event 2 for Olympic qualification.
After placing 5th at the Australian Open (Selection event 1), second highest placed Australian behind silver medallist Jessica Fox, Kate Lawrence was still happy with her performance and is looking forward to racing this weekend.
“I was pretty happy with my paddling at the AUS Open, so I know that my body and mind are in good racing for.”
“At this stage it's all about maintaining a good feeling on the water but not doing too much and getting tired. I'm enjoying my extra rest and looking forward to some good racing on the weekend!”
Two-time Olympian Warwick Draper will look to come out firing with the men’s K1 heats get the afternoon session of racing underway. Draper topped the Aussies in contention for selection at Aus Open and will be looking at drawing on all his experience in high pressure competition to his advantage this weekend.
“This will be my fourth Olympic selection, and obviously the Olympics is a step up again, but being in a familiar territory, and being successful at a couple of selections in the past helps.”
Rivalling Draper for the spot will be NSWIS duo Will Forsythe and Sam Lyons, while don’t discount Victoria’s Jaxon Merritt who produced at great time in the invitational run at Aus Open, showing on his day he can mix it with the nation’s best.
Although ineligible for Olympic selection, as he awaits full citizenship, Lucien Delfour will look to continue his recent impressive streak and build on an encouraging 6th place finish at AUS Open, with another strong performance at Oceania Champs where he will go head to head with German ace Sebastian Schubert and Reigning World Champion Peter Kauzer who were in hot form a fortnight ago topping the time sheets.
WAIS C2 paddlers Robin Jeffery and Kynan Maley finished 6th in the Australian Open to draw first blood in the battle for qualification, and have taken a giant stride towards being nominated for the Olympic team. The duo will come up against the invincible Hochschorner brothers Pavol and Peter who have won a remarkable 5 world championships and 3 Olympic gold medals in a C2 boat.
The women’s C1 heats will commence from 3:21pm local EST time with Jessica Fox looking to continue her recent fine form and make it back to back gold medals after victory at AUS Open.
Fox will face strong competition from fellow Australian’s Ros Lawrence and Leanne Guinea, as well as Katerina Hoskova (CZE), Katarina Macova (SVK) and Lena Stoecklin (GER).
The ‘Path to London’
Australia has already qualified 3 athlete quotas for the 2012 London Games.
The women’s K1 and men’s C2 boats have already gained an Olympic berth as a result of their 2011 World Championship results.
The K1 Men and C1 Men spots will be up for grabs at the Slalom Oceania Championships from the 24-26th February in Penrith. The highest placed eligible Oceania athlete following the FINALS at the Championships will earn the remaining NOC quota.
Australia can qualify a maximum of 5 athlete quotas for the London Games.
For the purpose of selecting which athletes will be nominated to the AOC to fill these quotas, Australian Canoeing will conduct Nomination Trials in each Olympic event.
Canoe Slalom athletes will be nominated based on the following events:
Nomination Trial 1 - Australian Open, 10-12 February 2012, Penrith NSW
Nomination Trial 2 - Oceania Open, 24 February 2012, Penrith NSW
Nomination Trial 3 - Oceania Open, 25- 26 February 2012, Penrith NSW
Competition Info featuring schedule, Start Lists, Race Information, Olympic qualification guidelines, and ICF Ranking point information available here.
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