Junior paddler, Kate Eckhardt (centre, above) led the Tasmanian contingent at the World Junior Slalom Championships at Foz do Iguassu (Igazu Falls) in Brazil, with three Bronze Medals. Kate made up for the disappointment of not making the Finals in K1 – her favourite event – by reaching the Finals in C1, C1 Teams and K1 Teams, achieving 3rd place in each of the events. Last year Kate was the women’s Junior K1 silver medalist at the Junior World Champs in Sydney.
In total four Tasmanians, all from the Derwent Canoe Club, competed at the Junior World Championships. Daniel Watkins, competing in both K1 and C1 had a blistering fast run in the K1 Semi Finals, but unfortunately picked up a couple of gate touch penalties which pushed him out of the finals contention – his time without penalties was 2 seconds behind the leader. A similar story in C1, where a rock hit towards the end of the course cost him time and a place in the Final.
Rohan Borojevic reached the Semi Finals in Junior Men’s C1 and finished in a respectable 20th place – but close to making the Finals in his first World Championships. Jake Hodkinson, also in his first World Championship and first major international race, did his best to make up an early error, forcing him to take big risks. Unfortunately it didn’t come off, but he has gained fantastic experience racing in this highly competitive class and will no doubt move up the rankings in future races.
The course was tight, continuous and shallow in paces, with many competitors breaking paddles and very few clean runs. Overall Australia did exceptionally, with numerous medals, the highlight being Jessica Fox again winning the U23 Women’s K1. Her time was three seconds clear of second place. For more detail see Australian Canoeing Event News.
The paddlers are all now in Seu d’Urgell near Barcelona for the Pyrenees Cup race this weekend. The course was the venue Slalom for the 1992 Olympic Games where Kate’s father, Peter represented Australia in Men’s C1. The course is technical and steep like many Tasmanian rivers and hopefully this will help the Tassie contingent to excel on the course despite the short pre-race training period and jet lag.