For the second day in a row, Great Britain had an athlete on top of the podium in Krakow, Poland and this time it was Joe Clarke who took canoe slalom World Cup gold in the men’s single kayak (K1).
With bronze last week in the opening World Cup and gold today, the Olympic champion is showing that he is back to his very best and has indeed stepped things up a gear since Rio.
Finishing ninth in the semi final, Joe went off second in the final and despite the deteriorating wet conditions, posted a storming clean run of 76.93 to lay down the gauntlet for the chasing pack. Whilst the time always looked like it would be enough to finish on the podium, an ecstatic Clarke then had a long wait in the winner’s hot seat before it was confirmed that none of the other big names in the sport had been able to remove him from his throne. In the end it was Peter Kauzer of Slovenia who was second, with Jiri Prskavec of Czech Republic in third.
Speaking after the race, Joe Clarke said:
“It’s good to be back. I felt good coming into the European’s but it didn’t quite happen there, but the last two weekends have been great. I am back on top of the podium again and it was the same top three as Rio which makes it even funnier.
“I was last off in the semi final and second off in the final, which meant I had a pretty short turn around, but I just went out there and put down a run that I knew was really good and then had a long nervous wait, rather than a short one.
“I was pretty sure it would be a podium spot and particularly once I saw the other top splits coming through with nobody managing to get within half a second of my time. I lost a bit of time on the bottom of the course, but the deficit for the others just kept getting more and more. I feel really positive and I am made up with the result!
“I am looking forward to getting on the start line again and keeping the momentum going from one venue to the next, but I am not taking it for granted as there are a lot of things that go into each performance. I am looking forward to next week in Augsburg and on to Rio at the end of the season for the World Championships, which is one of my favourite courses.”
Also showing that he has moved on this year and can consistently challenge the world’s best in K1, Bradley Forbes-Cryans delivered two fast, clean runs today in the semi (fourth) and final placing fifth, his third consecutive top ten finish of the season.
Pleased with his growing consistency, but disappointed to miss out on the medals Bradley said:
“To have done the first three major races of the season and have come away with three finals is great and something I would have expected more towards the end of the season and to do that consistently week in and week out is a really nice feeling.
“I have walked away with a fifth today, but I am actually a little disappointed as I was hoping for a bit more. For GB to be the best K1 nation this weekend and to have a K1 man in top spot just shows that we are capable of mixing it with the best in the world.
“There are a lot of positives to take away and little bits to keep improving on with my coach Richard Hounslow and try to challenge again next weekend. I have done a lot of good training in Augsburg in the past, so I am looking forward to getting on the start line.”
Unusually, Kimberley Woods was Great Britain’s only representative in the women’s cane single (C1) with World Champion, Mallory Franklin and Sophie Ogilvie going out in the semi finals.
Woods had the opposite challenge to Joe Clarke having convincingly won her semi final and was last to go in the final, just as the heaven’s opened. Unfortunately she never quite got going and with two touches on gates 10 and 11 and completely missing the final gate, it left her well down the order in ninth.
Disappointed that she hadn’t been able to fully focus on the task in hand Kimberley said:
“I heard Jess’s (Jessica Fox) time when I was waiting at the start and I thought I am going to have to put a good one down, although I was more than capable of doing that. I just wasn’t really focusing very well and I got distracted with things going on around me, particularly when they called a touch on gate 11, which I wasn’t sure about.
“I am a bit gutted, particularly to miss the last gate and have so many touches especially after my clean run in the semi final, which was my first clean run since the World Championships in Pau last year. I just wasn’t in the game in my own head today. I will look to improve for Augsburg next week and get straight back on it in training tomorrow.”
Great Britain canoe slalom head coach, Mark Ratcliffe reflected on a successful weekend with two gold medals to add to the three bronze from last week saying:
“I am very pleased with this weekend. It is still early season and we want to build to the World’s and there are still improvements to come. But to deliver multiple finalists in a number of the categories like the C1 and K1 men is great and we now want to focus on that final delivery, with more boats in the final giving you a better chance of success.
“To see David Florence back on the podium in C1 for the first time in a couple of years is a massive achievement and Joe today building back up again from Rio is a sign of progress and I believe he has now move beyond his Olympic performance level which is a good sign for the rest of the season.”
The canoe slalom World Cup moves on to Augsburg, Germany next week with more exciting racing guaranteed.
DAY 3 RESULTS SUMMARY
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) – Semi Final 1st Final 9th
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – Semi Final 15th
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) – Semi Final 18th
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) – Semi Final 9th, Final 1st
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (C.R Cats) – Semi Final 4th, Final 5th
Christopher Bowers (Stafford & Stone) – Semi Final 32nd