“I am looking forward to putting into practice what we have been working on and off season. And it looks like we have a larger pool of paddlers which will make racing exciting.”
Amanda Reynolds and Curtis McGrath are among the Australian stars who will paddle for gold at the 2016 Oceania Para-Canoe Championships, which begins Friday (12 February) in Adelaide, Australia.
The two World Championship medallists will battle against other top para-canoers from the region, all looking to better their chances of making the national teams heading for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where the sport will make its debut.
Arguably the most thrilling race will be the men’s K1 200m, which will see world silver medallist McGrath going up against 15-year-old rising star Dylan Littlehales. They will face each other again in the K1 1,000m and in the K1 500m races, too. On paper, McGrath should also claim easy victories in the V1 200m, V1 500m and V1 1,000m.
“For the Oceania Championships I am going to try and apply a good race plan. I feel that my start is what I can improve the most so there will be a lot of focus on that area,” said McGrath, who took World silver in the men’s K1 200m KL2 behind Austria’s Markus Swoboda.
World champion Amanda Reynolds appears to be the favourite in the women’s K1 200m, K1 500m and K1 1000m open categories. However, she will face strong opposition from Susan Seipel, bronze medallist from last year’s Milan World Championships in the women’s K1 200m KL2. Sepiel will also be hopeful of further podium success in the V1 200m, V1 500m and V1 1,000m.
“Preparation is going well and I am gaining strength,” Reynolds said. “I am looking forward to putting into practice what we have been working on and off season. And it looks like we have a larger pool of paddlers which will make racing exciting.”
The Oceania Championships, which run until Sunday (14 February) will be combined with the Grand Prix 2 regatta. The event will form the first of two selection trials for Australia, with the National Sprint Championships in Perth to follow from the 2-6 March.