The 2013 Australian Open will commence at Penrith Whitewater Stadium on Friday with athletes from twelve countries set to showcase their talents down the fast and challenging Sydney Olympic course.
Headlining the Australian team will be London Olympic trio Jessica Fox, Robin Jeffery and Kynan Maley. Look out for Lucien Delfour, Ros Lawrence, Sarah Grant and Ian Borrows with all athletes capable of a podium finish.
Racing will commence on Friday morning with the men’s C1 paddlers to hit the course first with London Olympians Robin Jeffery and Kynan Maley headlining an impressive men’s C1 field with top ten paddlers Stanislav Jezek (CZE) and Jan Benzien (GER) the ones to beat.
Internally the fight for C1 national selection will be tough with Maley and Jeffery set to battle it out with NSWIS duo Ian Borrows and Ethan Hodson and Victorian Christian Fabris, while keep an eye out for Australian Youth Olympic gold medallist Daniel Watkins and fellow Derwent River paddler Andrew Eckhardt, with both teenagers looking to continue their rise up the rankings in 2013.
Jeffery is feeling confident after a solid preparation.
“It’s been awesome, I had a good lead-in in New Zealand, and it’s been good working with Stuart McIntosh and the new coaches (Julian Billaut & Nick Smith).”
Jeffery will also form a new C2 boat combination in 2013 with 23 year old Ethan Hodson.
“I want to be the first boat in the C1 (National Selection) and race fast and improve with Ethan (Hodson) in the C2.”
Jeffery and Hodson face a tough battle in the C2, with the newly formed duo set to do battle against some very strong German combinations lead by world number 10 duo Robert Behling and Thomas Becker, and world number 11 crew Franz Anton and Jan Benzien.
Tasmanian teenagers Daniel Watkins and Andrew Eckhardt will prove Jeffery and Hodson's biggest rivals for national selection as C2 racing commences in the afternoon session of Fridays racing.
Australian duo Ros Lawrence and Jessica Fox look set to battle it out for C1 glory with the duo ranked 1st and 3rd respectively on the ICF World Rankings.
German Lena Stoecklin, local Penrith paddlers Alison Borrows and Noemie Fox, and Melbourne’s Margaret Webster will fight out the minor placings.
The men’s K1 kick things off in the afternoon qualification on Friday with 24 year old NSWIS paddler Lucien Delfour Australia’s best placed athlete to mount a challenge for a podium finish against a strong international contingent featuring Czech Olympic K1 silver medallist Vavrinec Hradilek and French world number 1 Etienne Daille.
The Germans also boast a strong K1 team with the likes of Sebastian Schubert, Fabian Doerfler, Paul Boeckelmann and Hannes Aigner all set to be in the mix come final time.
Delfour has set himself the challenge of reaching the top five at the World Championships later this year but first he wants to win the Australian Open and is feeling confident after a good lead in.
“I am pretty confident, I have been training hard and I had a good race in New Zealand,” he said.
“We have some of the world’s best paddlers competing here, the Germans will be strong, and it will be a good challenge.”
Emerging U23 paddlers Jaxon Merritt (VIC) and Joey Croft (NSW) will also be out to impress in the first national selection event for 2013.
Three time Olympian Warwick Draper and fellow senior athlete Will Forsythe (NSW) will not compete this weekend due to injury, missing a critical opportunity to secure selection points. The pair will however remain in contention for senior team selection.
Fresh off the back of her K1 Silver medal success in London, Jessica Fox will look to go one better than the silver medal she won at last year’s Australian Open.
The 19 year old will face strong competition from Austrian World Number 5 Corrina Kuhnle, Czech sensation Katerina Kudejova and German paddler Jasmin Schornberg.
Expect Victoria’s Sarah Grant and New South Wales’ Ros Lawrence to also be right amongst the action and in contention for overall honours.
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