The 2019 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint National Championships kicked off at Champion Lakes in Perth yesterday (6 March), with a full day of racing across all age groups and distances.
Paddle Australia’s up-and-coming sprint talent had a great day, making waves for spectators and national team selectors alike.
In the Paralympic classes, Paralympic champion and eight-time world champion Curtis McGrath (QLD) got a run for his money from teammate Dylan Littlehales (NSW), who beat him in the men’s K1 200m seeding race by just 0.24 seconds. While the pair race in different classes at an international level, they make the most of pushing each other on the national circuit.
“It was a great race for both of us,” Littlehales said. “Not the nicest start to Nationals with a cross-head wind, but everyone has the same conditions and we both paddled well. Curtis started paddling a year before me, but since I started, we’ve always been racing each other and it’s at the stage now where it’s really close and it’s great to have a little rivalry on the Australian team. That pushes me and it pushes him and everybody gets better.”
Littlehales and McGrath are both eyeing selection to the Australian team for the upcoming international ICF Para-canoe World Cup season.
“You basically have to finish first at Nationals in the KL3, [KL]2 or [KL]1,” Littlehales explained. “Hopefully, the way it’s looking is that Curtis and I will have the KL2 and KL3 spots and AJ [Reynolds] and Susan [Seipel] should have the women’s spots, and if we have any KL1 paddlers that are fast enough, hopefully they can come along too.”
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By Paddle Australia