Rachel and Lani score SILVER success at Racice 2014

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GB sprint paddlers picked up two silvers and a bronze medal in Racice today bringing their medal tally to four at the team’s first World Cup of the season.

London Olympic bronze medallist Liam Heath won silver in the K1 200, whilst the pairing of Rachel Cawthorn and Lani Belcher added a further silver in K2 200.

GB Canoeing has been testing out a number of crew combinations at Racice this weekend and they were rewarded in their decision for the women’s K2 200 line up.

In today’s A final, Lani Belcher and London Olympian Rachel Cawthorn won the silver medal, finishing 0.5 seconds behind Belarussians Marharyta Tsishkevich and Maryna Litvinchuk.  Jess Walker and Angela Hannah finished seventh.

“It was really exciting to win silver,” said Belcher afterwards.  “We jumped in the K2 together a couple of months ago and it felt pretty awesome from the start.

“We haven’t done masses of training together but it just seemed to click because we both paddle quite similarly.

“We knew we had a good chance of a medal today if we stuck to our race plan.  In the 200 it’s always so close you just have to commit to it and see what happens on the finish line.”

Belcher, winner of the bronze in yesterday’s K1 1000, took a further bronze in this afternoon’s K1 5000.

Liam Heath, well known for his K2 success with partner Jon Schofield, doubled up in the K1 and K2 200 metre A finals at the Czech Republic venue today.

But it was in the K1, a race Heath had never finalled in as a senior competitor, that he won the silver.  His time of  35.216 was just 0.033 of a second behind Canadian Mark De Jonge.

In a an incredibly tight finish it took officials so long to determine the final placings that Heath only learnt he had won the medal after coming off the water after his K2 final.  Britain’s Kristian Reeves, competing in his first senior A final, finished impressively to take seventh.

“It was really nice to get out and show my face in K1 and I’m quite pleased with the effort I put in did today,” said Heath afterwards.

“You go through the heats and the semis and you get an idea of how you are racking up against the other competitors.

“So you go into the race knowing that you are a potential.  But it’s so close, the times are separated by hundredths of a second and you are never 100 percent sure what’s going to happen.

“I hadn’t got a clue where I’d come in either race until I’d gone off the water from the K2 and started to get changed and the boys told me my results.”

In today’s final K2 200 Heath and Schofield, silver medallists in last year’s World Championships, finished fourth.  But the priority for Racice had always been the K1 200 and the pair will focus solely on the K2 at next week’s World Cup in Szeged, Hungary.

“You are always a little bit disappointed when everything is so close, and it was hundredths of a second again in the K2,” continued Heath.

“But obviously it’s good to know we can still make an effort like that after I’ve done a flat-out K1 20 minutes before.

“Next weekend we are just focusing on K2 and things look good for that, so we will just keep moving forward.”

Rachel Cawthorn was also part of this morning’s women’s K4 500 boat, the same crew with Jess Walker, Louisa Sawers and Angela Hannah that finished fifth in the London Games.  In today’s final they showed good form to finish fourth.

“We have swapped the order and combinations around recently and it feels like it has come together as well,” said Cawthorn afterwards.

“It’s been exciting competing both yesterday and today and it was really good to be back up in the mix, for the fight for the medals.  Now we just need a little bit more practice.”

GB Canoeing’s Sprint Head Coach, Scott Gardner, is working hard on building a winning attitude throughout his team and is encouraged by performances this weekend.  GB finished seventh out of 40 countries on the points table.

“We’ve pushed the boundaries and learnt a lot about our team members this weekend,” he said.

“In the past we might have been a bit intimidated by the bigger and more traditional nations.  But our message now is that GB Canoeing is racing with the intent to win rather than settling for a fifth, sixth or seventh.

“We are pushing hard to put ourselves into races and a lot of times this weekend we’ve picked up and our confidence is growing off the back of that.

“I’m very optimistic coming out of this World Cup and looking forward to going into next week’s competition at Szeged.”


Words by GB Canoeing