CW paddlers bring home medals from Poland and Czech Republic

The Canoe Wales slalom squad have had exciting results at the recent Junior ECA series races in Poland and the Czech Republic. Richard Lee, our Performance Manager and Head Slalom Coach, provides us with this update from the road:

The Canoe Wales slalom squad took to the road again to race at the Junior European Canoe Association cup in July and August with races at Krakow (Poland) and Ceske Budevojice (Czech Republic). The race series is held over 12 races at 6 venues, with the best 6 races counting towards an overall winner. Having attended two of the races previously, Welsh paddlers were placed well and looking to build on this, both in preparation for the final event in Bratislava in late August, and also the Junior European championships in Hohenlimburg, Germany.

The race at Krakow is held on a channel to the side of the river Wisla, just outside the historic city of Krakow. Here the polish Canoe Federation have developed the Kolna multi sports complex, with a swimming pool, gym, club facilities, a hotel and hostel accommodation alongside the course, which in turn hosts regular World and European age group championships. The course itself is similar to a cross between the Cardiff and Nottingham white water courses and following two days of training, 270 racers competed across two days to find the overall winner of this fourth leg of races. Welsh paddlers fared well, with Emily Davies taking the U23 C1 Women win, and four Welsh paddlers narrowly missing the podium in 4th place – Lili Bryant (U16 K1W), Will Coney (U23 C1M), Etienne Chappell (U16 K1M) and James Cooper (U23 K1W), while Jess Rayner picked up a final on the Sunday to improve her overall ranking.

A quick departure on Sunday evening saw James Cooper traveling to Prague with Irish and English paddlers for some training, while seven paddlers travelled to Liptovsky Mikulas in Slovakia for three days of speed training in the Tatras mountains. Here the Welsh boats shared the water with double Olympic champion, Elena Kaliska, C2 leading pairs – the Skantars and Kucera & Batik and a member of the Slovak team. The water although low, provided a good base, with a run down to Bratislava, where the Danube feeds a 300 metre channel which drops 12 metres to give one of the most intense slalom experiences in the world with the 4 metre drop – Niagara – being the sting in the tail. This course provided an opportunity for young paddlers to expand their white water hard drive, before returning to the racing circuit at Ceske Budejovice.

With a short training session on the Friday, the paddlers were ready for racing by the Saturday on a course that resembled the Holme Pierrepoint training course in form, although the rapids were formed by the Raid Block system that creates the Lee Valley Olympic course. Once again, race results were combined over the two days to provide an overall points table. James Cooper, fresh from Prague, took the U23 K1 Men win, while Megan Hamer Evans took a second place in the K1W under 18 section. Eti Chappell was 2nd in the U16 K1Men, while 2nd placed Lili Bryant shared the podium with Antonia Galuskova, the current Junior World champion. Emily Davies took a fourth consecutive podium at the ECA races in 3rd overall, while Jess Rayner produced a good Saturday final performance. Over the course of 4 legs of the ECA series, all 8 Welsh paddlers recorded a final, while 6 of the athletes featured in the top three of their events at some point in the tour, which not only saw podium performances but also great experiences built on successes, failures and hard work, which will see the young paddlers well in the future.

This future begins next weekend with the ECA cup final at Bratislava (where James Cooper will compete), the Junior and Under 23 European championships where Eti Chappell, Megan Hamer Evans, Tom Abbott and Gabi Ridge will compete for Great Britain.


James Cooper, 1st U23 Kayak, ECA Cup Ceske


Etienne Chappell, 2nd, K1M U16, Ceske


Will Coney, training at Bratislava


Canoe Wales Slalom team, Krakow ECA Cup


Road trip


Megan Hamer Evans, training at Bratislava


Lili Bryan, 2nd Place, K1W U16, Ceske

7 August 2017