Murray Stewart & Jacob Clear in Milan
Murray Stewart has lead the charge for the Australian team on the opening day of the ICF sprint World Cup in Racice, Czech Republic.
Stewart produced a faultless performance in his K1 1000 semifinal having earlier cruised through the heats to qualify fastest for the coveted men’s final.
The Manly kayaker got off to a typically strong start to lead the field through the first 250 metres and was never headed winning the second semifinal in 3:36.202.
Stewart finished more than three seconds ahead of Danish paddler Rene Holten Poulsen and Laurens Pannecoucke of Belgium who fought a close battle for the minor placing.
2013 World Championship silver medallist Ken Wallace was unable to join Stewart in the final after finishing third in a tough semifinal which featured World Cup 1 winner Max Hoff of Germany and Czech giant Josef Dostal.
Wallace recorded a time of 3:39.903 to finish 2.628 seconds behind Dostal who was the victor of the fourth semifinal.
Stewart will feature in a second final tomorrow after he helped power the K4 1000 boat containing Tate Smith, David Smith and Jacob Clear to yet another World Cup final.
The London Olympic champions did what needed to be done, with their third place heat performance enough to see them move directly into the final and bypass the semifinals.
Stewart and Clear will be looking to win their second medal of the World Cup series after they won silver in the K2 1000 in Milan a fortnight ago.
The Australian women were equally impressive with NSWIS pair Jo Brigden-Jones and Naomi Flood progressing to the K2 500 final.
Despite being a new boat combination, the Australian women drew on all their experience to finish second in their semifinal.
Just 0.701 seconds separated the top three with Belarus pair Marharyta Tsishkevich and Maryna Litvinchuk winning semifinal one in 1:48.211, 0.695 seconds ahead of Brigden-Jones and Flood.
There are still a couple of races remaining on the opening day with Naomi Flood up shortly in the K1 1000 semifinals. Wallace and fellow Queenslander Jordan Wood will contest the K1 500 heats from 1:10am AEST.
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