Poznan World Cup 1

Following the races this weekend at World Cup 1, how do things stand for Team GB.

Mens K1 1000m, according to the official sites the dual between Tim and Paul will now reach its thrilling climax in Duisburg in a weeks’ time. For the casual viewer you may be forgiven for not reaching fever pitch at this stage.

This weekend saw Paul levelling the scores by virtue of reaching final A as opposed to Tims final B performance. Canoeing being what it is this is a pretty arbitrary notion. Paul didn’t beat anyone who beat Tim in the process and with conditions as they have been comparative times are not a reliable guide either. The simplistic best of three process could well have been over already had the two boys been drawn in the others semi-final.

Discussion over the value of judging the process and the results could go on forever but are they even relevant? Neither athlete is at the sharp end at this stage and it is difficult to see how they will get to a stage where they can guarantee an Olympic Final let alone a medal, which you would have to say is now out of reach baring miracles.
Mens K1 500m: Andy Daniels continued his run of good results. Two solid performances in the heats and semi final saw Andy reach the B final where he finished 7th. Sadly the 500m race having lost its Olympic status has been robbed of some of the top end guys which shows in the depth of quality. The obsession with Olympic events which is based on the funding they draw is slowly but surely sucking the life out of anything non Olympic.

Mens K1 200: Ed McKeever, what can you say? Despite the standard in these races rising continually Ed somehow keeps coming out on top. His consistency is admirable and he is looking like he can take on all-comers. With his Polish nemesis out with a wrist injury it was only Craviotto of Spain who could get close and even (from the footage we could see) lead Ed in the early stages. It was also Craviotto who took top spot in Eds semi final. Pity for him then that he didn’t show this same form just 2 days earlier when he failed to qualify for the Games. Eds route will be the easier for it!

Christian Reeves also entered the 200, and despite winning his heat and being pretty close to Ed back home he could only  manage 7th in the same semi here which didn’t even earn a place in final C ! Such is the strength in depth now in this event. It also sends out a very strong message to our other 200m athletes that although Ed is ahead of the pack you will be way down the list unless you are within a few feet of him!

In terms of Olympic medal prospects it looks very much at this stage like Ed is the man to beat and with his level headed approach to his racing I for one have every confidence he will be top of the Podium in August. If anyone does beat him they will have to be something very special!

Mens K2 200m: Another 200m another medal. Schofield and Heath up against the seemingly unbeatable  French crew, drawn side by side in the final it was not the time to have a bad start. Better to have it now though than at the big one. I imagine the boys will come away disappointed to have given the French ¼ of a boat length start, it is an expensive mistake. However to temper their disappointment they held themselves together incredibly well to pull through to 2nd place having only lost another couple of feet to the winner. With a good start the result would have been hard to call and the fact that the boys pulled back a fair distance on some other serious contenders will be a big comfort to them. Only one crew was more unlucky and that was the Russians who broke a paddle about 10 seconds into the race. At the time they were looking like yet another serious contender in this the closest of all events.

Womens K1 500m. Rachael Cawthorne favourite to take the host nation place won her semi final and looked to have made the most of an injury and illness free winter to return to her very best form. The final though saw an uncharacteristic lacklustre second half of the race and a disappointing 9th place. Positive signs are there though and next week in Duisburg is another chance to prove her return to form. Fingers crossed.

For Louisa Sawyers it was a frustrating weekend, probably her best ever showing at the Nottingham regatta gave her this opportunity to race K1 here. Having qualified for her semi final she was then disqualified for an underweight boat. We probably just don’t have enough coaches in the womens squad to look after them!

Womens K1 200m: We have been touting a potential Olympic medal in this event for the past year or so it was going to be interesting to see how it panned out. Rachael had beaten Jess Walker twice at Nottingham but that was a couple of weeks ago. A simple qualification from their heats saw both women drawn in the same semi final and it couldn’t have been closer with Jess coming out on top by a few thousandths of a second. A rematch in final B saw the margin of victory increase to 1/10th of a second but 6th and 7th places respectively is looking like our hopes of a medal in this event may need some boosting in Duisburg next weekend especially as there are still Hungarians and the World Champion from NZ still to come into the mix.

Womens K1 5000m: This gave Louisa Sawers a second chance to show what she could do and calling on her Elmbridge upbringing she placed a credible 2nd but this really was not her weekend. A misunderstanding about which side of the buoy to finish saw two DQ’s in two races which must put her top of the ICF criminals list at this early stage in the season! Better luck we hope is around the corner next week.

On balance then, a fantastic weekend for our men’s 200m team. Our women are going to need to make a step up for next weekend and for the Olympics if they are to be finalists in the individual events and our second string athletes, though doing well on the domestic front are still well off the pace at this level.

Duisburg will see the conclusion of the 1000m k1 palaver and the loss of one of our only two world class athletes at this distance. Waste wont even come close to describing whatever outcome ensues.

The womens K4 will see its first outing and a lot rests on this boat now the K2 is unqualified and the K1s look a little way off the pace. After last years result though this boat is our best hope of a podium finish outside of the 200m events, so fingers crossed the winter has gone well for them.

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