Olympic silver medallist Mallory Franklin was in imperious form, winning canoe slalom gold and extreme slalom silver on the final day of competition at the ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships in Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovenia.
Unbeaten in the C1 semi-final this morning, Mallory went on to dominate the final, putting down a clean run to finish more than a second clear of Marjorie Delassus (France) in silver.
Easing through the semi-finals by way of a fast and clean run saw the Windsor athlete go top by over four seconds, meaning Mallory was last to go down the Liptovsky course in the final.
With an impressive time of 115.07 to beat, set by French Olympian Marjorie Delassus, Mallory couldn’t have started her run better and was 1.86 seconds up by the first split.
Her confidence on the tricky and very technical course in Slovakia was apparent as she gained even more time during the mid-section, before keeping her cool around the troublesome gate 25 to post another fast and clean run, crossing the line in 113.35.
After winning the gold, she said: “I’ve felt like I’ve been paddling really well in this race. It’s great to come out and win gold.
“I am really enjoying my paddling. I love racing in Liptovsky and it’s my first international race being coached by Rich (Hounslow) so I’m really pleased to deliver medal performances this weekend.”
“I didn’t know what time I had to beat, I was purely locked into my own plan and wanted to really deliver on gate 2. Once you get past the drop and start paddling out of that section, you get a feeling about how you’re doing. I was just pleased to deliver a good run in the end.
“I’ve spent more time in my kayak this winter as I am really happy with where my C1 is currently.”.
Unfortunately British teammate Kimberley Woods (Rugby) missed out on making the final after a tough opening to her semi-final run.
The twice European Champion was last off after a gutsy performance in the heats saw her top the standings.
But, it wasn’t to be for Kimberley, as she lost balance around gate five, resulting in a missed gate and needing a paddle-back to avoid a 50 second penalty.
The Rugby paddler went on to complete her run but with additional touches later on, she finished in 18th position overall.
In the men’s C1 semi-finals, Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe) and Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) both missed out on a top ten place required to progress.
It was agonisingly close for Ryan, who was taking on his first international race in over two years due to a significant injury.
The 2018 European Champion put down a solid and clean run to go third in 105.28, but then Ryan had an agonising wait to see if it was enough to progress with 13 athletes still to go.
Unfortunately, he was on the wrong side of the cut, with just 0.2 seconds separating himself and Italian paddler Paolo Ceccon and he finished 11th.
Two early touches from Tokyo Olympian Adam Burgess meant he also missed out on a place in the final.
The raw pace from Adam was really strong, but an early touch on gate 2 and another on gate 9 just gave the 2018 European silver medallist a bit too much to make up in the latter stages of the race and he finished 15th in 106.79.
Fresh from her C1 title win, Mallory continued her early season form into the extreme slalom later in the day, progressing through the knockout rounds to win silver, her first international medal in the new event which will make its Olympic debut in Paris 2024.
Having qualified second fastest in the time trial, Mallory got off to strong starts in both her quarter-final and semi-final races to take race victories in each and progress through to the final.
In the final, the Windsor paddler got caught in the turbulent water under the start ramp and flipped the boat leaving Mallory with quite the challenge to get back into medal contention. However, two impressive moves on the upstream gates put her right back in the mix and clear into second place, which she held onto crossing the finish line to win the silver medal.
Reflecting on her first medal in the event, she said:
“Extreme slalom is a crazy event. I just wanted to go out and get some experience in it, having not had too much previously. I really enjoyed fighting for places and working out tactics.
“Once you’re in that final with three out of four getting a medal, when you come up in a situation like I did in flipping the boat, it’s always worth fighting to get back into the mix.
You’re never out of it. With people faulting or making little mistakes I think it’s worth fighting right till the very end.
– Mallory Franklin
“It’s been a really good championships for me, a dramatic one and a very long one, and to come away with four medals, to build on last year with medals at both the Olympics and World Championships, to come away with one of each individually and a team medal is really cool.
“I am excited to see what is going to happen for the rest of the year.”
Mallory adds these gold and silver medals to the K1 team silver she won on Thursday with teammate Kimberley Woods and Megan Hamer-Evans and the individual women’s K1 bronze, an impressive medal haul to kick-start her 2022 international campaign.
Elsewhere in the extreme slalom, it was a tricky start for Kimberley Woods in the quarter-finals. With the top two in each round progressing there was little margin for error.
Getting caught off the ramp, Kimberley had to put in a huge effort to catch the leading three paddlers and pulled back local paddler Pankova on the second up-stream left gate, where she went alone avoiding risk of collisions. But with few places to pass on the course, she couldn’t gain enough time on the leading pair and finished her quarter final in third.
2021 extreme slalom World Champion Joe Clarke was also unable to progress. The unpredictable water under the ramp meant the Stafford and Stone paddler was unable to take advantage of his trademark speed off the start.
Having pulled back a place he just ran out of time to make the top two required.
An early paddle-back for Bradley Forbes-Cryans saw the Scottish paddler miss out on the men’s semi-finals. The CR Cats paddler got caught up on the first upstream manoeuvre, resulting in missing the gate and having to paddle back which gave Bradley too much to do.
Mark Ratcliffe, Performance Director for Canoe Slalom and Extreme Slalom, said: “Mallory was phenomenal this weekend. Looking at the size of her race schedule across all disciplines, to have made the podium in each would have been impressive but to also become European Champion in the C1 is awesome.
Overall it’s been a good weekend, we had a few missed opportunities, missing out on the podium or progressing through to finals by really small margins. Joe was just 0.16 seconds off the podium yesterday and Ryan missed out on finals qualification by 0.18 this morning and his semi-final time would’ve been fast enough for a top six finish.
“We’ve had new members of the team who acquitted themselves really well throughout the weekend and overall we’ve got a good platform to build on for the season ahead.
“As a team we learn more each time we compete in the Extreme Slalom. Every course is very different with its own challenges, so we learn a lot from them and from the other nations too.
“Today the start ramp went into some really turbulent water which made the starts very unpredictable but we showed great promise in the time trials, the boat speed across the board was really pleasing and it’s been a great learning experience for us all.”
The team will be back in action at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 1 in Prague from 10-12th June.
DAY 4 RESULTS SUMMARY
Women’s C1 Final
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – GOLD medal 1:13:25
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) – 18th overall 1:47:15
Men’s C1 Semi-final
Ryan Westley (Lower Wharf) 11th overall 1:05:28
Adam Burgess (Stafford and Stone) 15th overall 1:06:79
Women’s Kayak Extreme
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) – Silver medal
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) – Quarter-Finals
Men’s Kayak Extreme
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) – Quarter-Finals
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) – Quarter-Finals