Australia’s best Para-canoeists will head to the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith this weekend for the 2019 Canoe Sprint Grand Prix II and start of the 2019 Paralympic qualification season (8-10 February).
The Grand Prix II is the continuation of Paddle Australia’s Canoe Sprint Series that started in Adelaide in December 2018 with the Grand Prix I and continues in Western Australia in March with the 2019 Paddle Australia National Sprint Championships (7-10 March). The National Sprint Championships will be the domestic national team selection event for Paralympic class paddlers.
Eighteen months out from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Grand Prix II is the first hit-out of the season for Paddle Australia’s Paralympic paddlers with 2016 Paralympians Curtis McGrath (QLD), Dylan Littlehales (NSW), AJ Reynolds (VIC) and Susan Seipel (QLD) all contesting the event.
“The team is going well,” said McGrath, a Paralympic and eight-time world champion. “Dylan [Littlehales] is stronger than ever and I have never seen AJ [Amanda Reynolds] as fit as she currently is. Susan [Seipel] has her eye on the prize and working hard to get back onto the podium.
“I would keep my eye on Dylan, he is getting stronger as he is maturing, and becoming the fastest Para-canoeist Australia has produced.”
On his own expectations, McGrath added:
“Expectations are good. I am keen to race and see where I am at. I won’t be looking to break any records and win the events, just have a good hit out and see where I need to improve.”
The Grand Prix II will also be the first event of the season with Paddle Australia’s National Para-canoe Coach Shaun Caven, who joined the team following Andrea King’s departure last year.
“Andrea [King] helped establish the program and we have had some great initial success,” McGrath said. “Guy Power [National Para-canoe Assistant Coach] has helped us maintain that success and is making sure the team stays focussed and looking to the future. Shaun is bringing a fresh Scottish feel and view to the team, and helping the team develop towards the Paralympic qualifying events later this year.
“There is a bit of a talent ID process happening in Australia right now, which is exciting for the future. A number of Para-athletes have picked up the paddle for the first time and we are pretty keen to see how that develops and grows for the focus of Tokyo and beyond,” he added.
Click here to view the race schedule.
Click here to follow the results.
By Paddle Australia