National squads ready to step up to Tokyo Games pathway
A mix of experience and youth have been selected to compete in the 2019 Canoe Sprint Olympic qualification program with SASI athletes strongly represented
INTENSITY is about to be cranked up when Australia's national junior and senior teams zoom in on a big year on the water with the aim, for some, of competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The national teams were announced recently by Paddle Australia with senior men's and women's teams and under-23s and junior teams selected to compete internationally with an Olympic qualifier on the calendar.
SASI has a strong hand in the teams.
Matt Goble, a former world championship paddler, continues his return as one of Australia's key performers on the international stage with his inclusion in the nine-strong senior men's team.
Josephine Bulmer, Cat McArthur and Bernadette Wallace (from Queensland but a SASI scholarship holder) have made the eight-member women's squad.
The teams will compete at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 1 in Poznan, Poland, between May 24 and 26, followed by the World Cup 2 in Duisburg, Germany, between May 31 and June 1.
From there an Australian team will be selected to continue on to the Olympic Games qualifier at the senior world championships in Szeged, Hungary, between August 21 and 25.
The Tokyo Games will feature women's canoeing events for the first time with the C1 200 and C2 500 debuting.
Australia will focus on qualifying a women's C2 after kayaker turned canoeist Bernadette Wallace joined world championship C1 paddler Josephine Bulmer to meet the international performance benchmark at the recent national titles, just four months after pairing.
Wallace, 29 was thrilled with her selection. It is her first return to the national team since 2016.
"It hasn't been a straight line to getting back on the team and I've had to change my body to fit the canoe technique, 200m and to be able to train full time again," Wallace said.
"I'm lucky to have such great training partners in Josephine (Bulmer) and Mihajlo (Malovic) and a coach that believes in us, Duke Ruzicic.''
Junior teams also were selected with Jesse Kneebone-Ellis and Daniel Kucharski rewarded for excellent performances at the recent national titles.
South Australian athletes Ashlee Schoene, Charli Smyth and Caitlin Webber, athletes on the edge of SASI programs, also won selection in the junior teams.
The athletes qualified for the ICF Canoe Sprint Junior and Under-23 World Championships to be held in Pitesti, Romania, between August 1 and 4.
SASI Kayak Coach Laurence Fletcher said the selections of the SA athletes were well deserved and a reward for the hard work put in.
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