Riley Fitzsimmons, Jayden Ellis, Sean Lohse and Jy Duffy
ICF Junior and U23 World Championships
Photograph:Balint Vekassy (ICF)
The future of Australian paddling is the brightest it has ever been following the conclusion of the ICF canoe sprint Junior and U23 World Championships in Szeged, Hungary overnight.
Australia entered the final day of racing full of optimism and looking to add to Jordan Wood’s superb performance which saw him win silver in the U23 K1 1000 final on Saturday.
The team did exactly that and more winning two bronze medals to take their medal tally to three.
Australia broke a 29 year old drought to win their first team boat medal at the Junior World Championships since 1985 when Riley Fitzsimmons (NSW), Jy Duffy (QLD), Jayden Ellis (SA) and Sean Lohse (SA) finished third in the junior K4 1000 final.
It was also the first time Australia has won a K4 1000 medal at a Junior or U23 World Championships.
A remarkable feat when you consider some of the talent that has come through the Australian ranks over the last 20 years, namely the current Olympic champions.
In the final the Australian quad produced a consistent performance sitting third at all three 250 metre splits before holding off a fast finishing Hungary to win the bronze medal in 3:02.877.
They finished 2.100 seconds behind Spain who won the gold 0.268 seconds ahead of Russia.
Duffy was particularly pleased to win a medal after narrowly missing on a podium place in the junior K1 1000 final yesterday.
“It is pretty good. It is better than getting fourth yesterday,” Duffy said.
Ellis said he did not think it was possible to be in that much pain and his teammates agreed it was a tough race.
“That was definitely one of the hardest races I have done in my life so it was great to get something out of it,” Fitzsimmons said.
After missing out on a medal last year by less than a second 21 year old Sunshine Coast paddler Alyce Burnett was relieved to be on the podium this year.
Burnett flew home in the final 250 metres after a slow start to take home the bronze medal in the U23 K1 500 A final.
“It feels so good getting that medal. Fourth last year was a bit disheartening,” Burnett said.
“This year’s race was really close and when I looked to my right at the end I thought I had got third but the coaches were not quite sure and I had to wait for the old slow-mo, but I am just stoked and I could not be happier.”
Earlier in the day Burnett also featured in the U23 K1 200 final placing ninth.
In other results U23 women’s pairing Cat McArthur and Alyssa Bull finished fifth in the K2 500 A final.
The duo finished 4.036 seconds behind Germany who won the gold medal in 1:44.583.
Wood was unable to repeat his silver medal heroics of a day earlier combining with fellow Queenslanders Bill Bain and Joel McKitterick, and South Australian Zac Ryan to finish sixth in the U23 K4 1000 final.
A large contingent of paddlers also featured across multiple B and C finals on the last day.
Western Australian junior Alex Graham was a standout finishing third in the K1 200 B final. Fellow statesmen Nick Pond and Sam McTigue finished sixth in the junior K2 200 B final.
The junior girls also showed encouraging signs for the future with Francesca Kidd and Chloe Sterry combining to finish fourth in the K2 500 B final. While fresh after producing a PB in her semifinal Josie Bulmer finished sixth in the junior K1 500 B final.
South Australian Callum Dunn was the best performed of the U23 200 metre men powering his K1 to eighth, while Mark Stowe and Robert McIntyre finished 3rd in the K2 200 C final.
National Performance Director Richard Fox said, “It is great to see the improvement showing in our next generation of Olympians in a very tough and competitive racing environment at the world championships.”
“Our medal count has grown from one bronze at last year's world championship to a silver and two bronze medals this year which is a reflection of our increased effort in the training environment at home and investment in developing our emerging athletes, thanks to our funding support from the AIS.”
“The shift in our competitiveness in the team boats was a key objective and it is was realised with our first team boat medal for decades in the junior men's K4 and other strong finals performances in the men's and women's events. On top of this the stand out individual performances from Jordan Wood, Alyce Burnett and Jy Duffy bode well for the future.”