Good news is ringing out for Britain from the Canoe Sprint World Cup regatta in Germany this weekend. Ed McKeever, our nation’s prolific gold medal winner over 200ms, is looking very comfortable on the top step of that presentation podium.
It’s not the fact that he won again today, but the nature of the win – almost 0.5 second ahead of popular Ecuadorian, Cesar de Cesare – that grabs the attention and which will have canoeing fans screaming in their dreams with excitement and anticipation of this same event which will take place in the Olympic Games on 11 August.
His success was backed up by another improved performance from the K2 of Liam Heath and Jon Schofield (below) who took the silver medal. Recently dubbed the seemly ‘perennial bridesmaids’ to the French pair of Hybois & Jouve, the GB pair surpassed then this time around. GB is in ‘a good place’ said coach Alex Nikonorov but he will have duly taken notice of the Russian machine, in the form of the powerful units of Postrygay and Dyachenko who took the gold medal and in so doing, surpassed the Brits by the same margin as McKeever, to win gold. ‘Beware of the Russians’ is a warning well heeded.
While Saturday brought gnawed fingernails for the women’s coaching staff – Rachel Cawthorn found herself in the unnatural habitat of the WK1 500m ‘C’ final and the Womens K4 finished in 5th place – Sunday was a much better day on the water for the whole team.
Jess Walker won her K1 200m B final in a time that would have placed her third in the A final. Richard Jefferies, in a start line stuffed with stars including an Olympic champion (though be it in the 1000m distance) tied for third place in a time of 40.9 seconds. He has certainly put his hand up and said, ‘Pick me’.
As World cup 2 draws to an end, selection riddles have been solved.
Tim Brabants shall go to the Games – his fourth (subject to his nomination by GB canoeing to the British Olympic Association) – to race the K1 1000m. The soon-to-be father of two, commented ‘I’m just relieved that this part of the process is over. It’s time to get my head down and train hard for the Games, if I want to win the gold medal’. His aim is very clear and there is work to do to catch the likes of Adam Van Koeverden (CAN) the world champion and Aleh Yurenia (BLR) , the winner this weekend.
The deciding factor was a semi-final on Friday where Brabants and Paul Wycherley went head to head with Brabants taking the win 2.6 seconds ahead of the Guildford man. While some, who do not know Paul, might have expected churlishness, Wycherley was a model professional, stepping up to win his B final on Saturday morning. Clearly disappointed as any mortal would be, Wycherley, the man, has impressed with the way he’s conducted himself and has shown that he is closing the gap on the rest of the world. Giving the likes of Brabants and Veraas Larsen 10 years and Van Koeverdan 4, time is on his side.
Next stop for the British team is the European Championships and then a date with destiny at Dorney in August for the Olympic shakedown.