The country’s top slalom athletes and international paddlers were in action over the weekend to compete for titles at the annual British Open held at Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Back from last week’s 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships the K1 women team gold medal winning trio of Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District CC), Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) and Kimberley Woods (Rugby) completed for individual honours in the women’s K1 race.
Mallory and Kim, who both achieved an Olympic quota place in the Tokyo 2020 Games at the World Championships, were in first and second place after the semi-final runs.
But in difficult gusty conditions it was Fiona Pennie who claimed the British Open title with the only clean run in the final and the only athlete to go under 100 seconds in a time of 99.93 seconds.
Kimberly Woods and Mallory Franklin finished in second and third place, with both touching three gates in the final. Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) claimed fourth place and the under 23 title ahead of early leader Nikita Setchell (Holme Pierrepont), with Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley) taking the junior title.
In the women’s C1 final 2019 European junior bronze medallist Bethan Forrow put down a strong run in a time of 110.73 to take the lead with two paddlers to go and claim the under 23 and junior titles.
Despite an early touch, it was 2017 World Champion Mallory Franklin who completed an impressive performance to take the women’s C1 British Open title in a time of 100.42. Kimberley Woods claimed third place and Sophie Ogilvie took fifth place.
The first final of the afternoon was in the men’s C1 where defending champion Will Smith (Winchester & District CC) and Tom Abbott (Mold CC) qualified fastest for the semi-finals.
In the final it was James Kettle (Lee Valley) who was the first paddler to have a clean run, putting him in the lead and securing the junior British Open title.
But it was to be Tom Abbott’s day, with the Mold paddler also going clean and taking the lead in a time of 93.80 with only one paddler to go.
Will Smith put in a robust defence of his title, but a costly touch gave Abbott the senior title, with Smith taking second place and the under 23 crown. Sam Ibbotson (Holme Pierrepont CC) was in third place.
Qualifying for the men’s K1 final was a much tighter affair with less than three seconds separating the top five boats.
In the final Ben Haylett (Holme Pierrepont CC) made up for missing out in the men’s C1 by taking the lead in a time of 96.32 and to claim the junior British Open title.
Next to go was Huw Swetnam (Eye Tee) who put down a faultless run to take the top spot and the lead in 91.58. Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone CC) and Yves Prigent from France were agonisingly close to taking the title, but both had a touch on gate 16 to give Swetnam the British title.
Chris Bowers took second place and the under 23 title, with Prigent in third place.
See the Great Britain Olympic slalom team compete at the European Championships
Great Britain’s slalom paddlers will be competing on home soil at the European Canoe Slalom Championships presented by Jaffa on 15 -17 May 2020 at Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Tickets are on sale in a priority window until Thursday 31 October. Full booking details on priority tickets are available at: https://britishcanoeingevents.org.uk/