Rugby canoeist delighted with medal for Great Britain on opening day in Spain
Great Britain’s women got off to a great start at the World Championships in La Seu d’Urgell, Spain today, winning gold in the women’s K1 Team event to become world champions in this event for the first time in ten years, with the 2009 event also taking place on this course, built for the 1992 Olympic Games.
Whilst the focus this week is firmly on qualification for Tokyo 2020 in the individual events, today’s team races saw all three competitors in each boat class skilfully working in harmony to reap the rewards.
The experienced women’s K1 trio, who won bronze at the 2018 edition, was led off by Scotland’s Fiona Pennie (CR Cats), with Mallory Franklin (Windsor and District) going second and Kimberley Woods (Rugby) in third.
There was some excellent teamwork as they crossed expertly between the gates, sometimes only centimetres apart, collecting just one penalty touch on the penultimate upstream gate 17 to finish in a time of 103.96 seconds to claim gold ahead of the Czech Republic in second and the Russian Federation in third.
Screaming with excitement, Kimberley Woods said: “It didn’t think we would do it in kayak, it was more the C1 we expected to win, so it is pretty cool to start off with a gold at the championships. I had a bit of a touch on the second to last upstream, but I knew I could sweep hard out of the last one and sprint to the finish. To get that win with a touch was fortunate, but we are a strong team and I am sure it will give us all confidence going into the rest of the week.”
Mallory Franklin said: “It is amazing and a really nice start. We paddled together really well as a team and it was good fun. It was nice to all be on the same page today and fight for the same thing rather than apart. We have all paddled together for so long now and it was great to put that kind of run down.”
Fiona Pennie added: “I am really pleased. We had to nail the plan and keep it clean and steady. We knew we were all capable of producing something that was world winning and we managed to do it!”
It wasn’t long before Mallory and Kimberley teamed up once again for the women’s C1 Team, this time with debutant Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) completing the British trio. Last to go and going in as favourites, Mallory and Kimberley were looking to make it a record three wins in a row, and with the leader board strewn with penalties there looked to be an opportunity opening up. However in the C1 boat, keeping the bow down and retaining control of the boat proved a challenge on the tricky course and they also picked up a number of touches to finish eighth.
The men’s K1 Team of Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone), Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) and Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) were also out to defend their title won on the Olympic course in Rio a year ago. However down at the first split and with a couple of touches on gates 14 and 16 they finished in ninth place in a time of 98.41 seconds.
Despite a close contest, it was also not to be in the men’s C1 Team event with David Florence (Lloyds Register), Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) and Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) finishing seventh.
It was a great day for hosts Spain, winning gold in the men’s K1 and taking silver in the men’s and women’s C1.
So whilst teamwork was the clear winner today, for the rest of the week competitors from most countries will be locking horns with their teammates first and foremost, as the battle for the first step towards Olympic glory in Tokyo starts right here.
Day 1 British Team Results Summary
Women’s K1 Team: Fiona Pennie (CR Cats), Mallory Franklin (Windsor and District), Kimberley Woods (Rugby), Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) – 1st GOLD
Men’s C1 Team: David Florence (Lloyds Register), Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe), Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) – 7th
Women’s C1 Team: Mallory Franklin (Windsor and District), Kimberley Woods (Rugby), Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) – 8th
K1 Team of Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone), Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) and Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) – 9th
The individual events get underway tomorrow (Thursday 26 September) with heats in the Men’s C1 and Women’s K1