The 1992 Barcelona Olympic course at Seu d’Urgell, in the Spanish Pyrenees, was a fitting venue for this year’s Canoe Slalom World Championship. The major significance being the first opportunity to secure Olympic Quotas and for Team GB, it was the final race of three on the track to Tokyo. Prior to La Seu, three Stafford and Stone athletes were still in contention for an Olympic place.
In Kayak men, three athletes had the possibility of securing their Tokyo ticket. Stafford and Stone’s Chris Bowers and the Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke and Scotsman Bradley Forbes-Cryans. All expectations were on Joe to push through after winning the first two selection opportunities, but the Selection Policy heavily rewarded top results in the final race at La Seu.
Chris’s Olympic dreams ended in Qualifying Heat 2, with a time fast enough to qualify but, a penalty standing in his way. His time will come another year.
This left it to Joe and Bradley to battle it out. Both passed through the Semi-Finals into the Finals and ensured GB qualified a quota place for Team GB. In the Final, Bradley went first and put down a blistering run but with the slightest of penalties on gate 10 to leave everything open for Joe to take the Olympic Place.
With the pressure ever increasing, Olympic Champion, Joe Clarke started well, but touches on gate 11 and again on 19 upset his plans and he finished just behind Bradley in fifth. It was not the outcome he needed, and Bradley now sits at the top of the British selection standings. His place will be confirmed in the next few days.
In Canoe Singles, Adam Burgess (Stafford and Stone) had convincingly won the first two selection races. Going into the race, the other two contenders had to make it into fifth place or above and be ahead of Adam. No easy task but well within the capability of Ryan Westley and multiple World Champion – David Florence.
All boats made it through to the semi-finals and as the tension mounted, there were to be some surprises as both Adam, then Ryan missed a spot in the Final, leaving only David to qualify a GB Olympic Place and his own place in Tokyo. Adam would just have to wait, nervously. David still needed a top five result to qualify ahead of Adam.
In the finals, David started well but lost time towards the final few gates and then had an anxious wait as, successively, other athletes pushed him down the order until the Frenchman, Denis Gargaud Chanut, finally knocked him into 6th place giving the selection win to Adam Burgess.
After the race, Adam said “It is the most competitive category to paddle in and all credit to the other boys as we wouldn’t be as quick as we are without each other and I know how much they wanted it as well”
Stafford and Stone Canoe Club Chairman, Dave Royle, said “Obviously, we are incredibly disappointed that Joe won’t get the opportunity to defend his title. Joe has been fantastic in his support for the club and we’re sure he’ll get another chance in Paris. The outcome for Adam is fantastic and well deserved, after his previous results in London and Prague, and we’ll be supporting him all the way to Tokyo”