New chapter for Lee Valley Worlds – Planet Canoe

Same valuable content – new location and channel

Canoe Slalom ICF Lee Valley World Championships
The author, John Gregory tweeting from Lee Valley via @PlanetCanoe. Photo courtesy of Neil Proctor

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships marked the next step in this journey, first taking this blog to Sportscene.tv in January 2013 and now to the ICF Planet Canoe website plus @PlanetCanoe Twitter account. I’m again very honoured. With the UK’s Daily Telegraph dedicating a shameful 21 words to David Florence’s latest World Championship title I am very grateful that we now have control of the delivery of content! Congratulations to our new Cane Slalom World Champions.

I provided a preview article to the ICF called 10 pointers for canoe slalom showdown. I must compliment the ICF on the way in which they have improved their live results, athlete interviews and live feed video through the Planet Canoe YouTube Channel. It is great to continue working alongside Matthew Leighton.

Through the great World Championships at Lee Valley I posted 673 tweets through @PlanetCanoe. Although there were two somewhat competing hashtags being promoted through the event, we generated 3,175 with #ICFslalom during the week which generated 10 million impressions on the last day alone. Interestingly, those which referenced the UK BBC TV Blue Peter presenter challenge with Russ Smith & Tim Baillie on the course actually generated the most timeline deliveries and retweets!!

Here you can read my post race analysis called 10 insightful facts about the Lee Valley Worlds

You can view my updated consolidated table of canoe slalom champions, updated September 25, 2015. Consolidated summary of key race winners 25.09.15

Here is a link to the latest 2015-4 ICF World Rankings.

The red thread to glory

Click here to view the full story on Sportsene and Etienne’s TEDx talk on YouTube

Sportscene – In the TEDx talk video Etienne Stott tells a truly inspirational story of the key moments in his journey from the age of ten, which including teaming up with Tim Baillie and the 2011 serious shoulder injury which put his hopes Olympics in jeopardy and regaining full fitness to win gold at London 2012. Etienne’s TEDx talk titled ‘The Red Thread to Glory’ was given at the University of Salford, Manchester, UK on January 16, 2013.

New Year’s Honours List accolade for GB canoeists

I am delighted to report that Tim Baillie, Etienne Stott and Ed McKeever (200m sprint racing) have been awarded MBE (Member of the British Empire) in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s Honours List. All three won gold at the London 2012 Olympics in August.

Click here for the link to the GB Canoeing page with a comment from GB Canoeing Performance Director, John Anderson, also an MBE.

Nick, Etienne, Mark, Richard, Etienne and Tim (photo courtesy of AE photos)
Nick, Etienne, Mark, Richard, David and Tim at the end of the C2 finals (photo courtesy of AE photos)

This is a fantastic end to the 2012 year for GB Canoeing and indeed the world-wide sport as a whole as it further raises the media profile of this exhilarating sport. The MBE’s also recognise the sustained Olympic performance by the whole of the GB Canoeing organisation over many many years, which culminated in our first ever canoe slalom gold medals and first Olympic medals in C2. Tim, Etienne and Ed now join Richard Fox who was awarded an MBE in 1986 for his services to British Sport. Photographs posted elsewhere show exciting and significant work at the Troja slalom site in Prague, which will host the 2013 World Championships in September.

Congratulations to you all. Happy New Year everyone. I hope you have written down your goals for 2013. I have!

The Lee Valley canoe slalom legacy

Wow, what a legacy! Note to self – buy all of the newspapers!

Today’s last post is dedicated to the service of those who have invested the last few years of their lives to pull off the greatest canoe slalom show on earth. There really has been two Team GB’s: one dedicated to performance excellence with the athletes and one dedicated to those that have delivered the highest level competition venues. There have been challenges and disappointments along the way but this should not detract from what has been achieved. You should now all be incredibly proud.

The Times cover Friday August 3 2012 TheTimes.co.uk

There have been 800 people behind the scenes at the venue on race days. A core team of 11 led by Canoe Manager, John MacLeod (1972 Canoe Slalom Olympian) have worked full-time for several years to bring this competition together. I want to recognise and acknowledge what they have achieved. They are: Elaine Skilton (Canoe Services Manager), Colin Woodgate (Canoe Slalom Technical Operations Manager), Kelly Rainey (Slalom Admin Services Group Leader), Tamsin Phipps (Canoe International Federation Group Leader), Natalie Sandmann (Slalom Athlete and Team Services Group Leader, Debbie Littlehales (Slalom Sports Information Group Leader), Dave Royle (Slalom Field of Play Group Leader), Julien Gaspard (Slalom Sports Equipment Group Leader), Jacky Brookes (Slalom Technical Officials Group Leader) and Paskell Blackwell(Slalom Field of Play Safety Group Leader). The Venue General Manager of the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre is Paul Valkovics (see canoeicf.com). We were delighted to welcome two Royal Air Force Squadrons to provide security for the games; Royal Air Force Regiment Queen Colour Squadron (63) Northholt and 2 Squadron Honnington Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, as well as all the emergency services inside and beyond the immediate venue. There are so many others including Lee Valley, British Canoe Union CEO Paul Owen, GBCanoeing and their headline sponsor Tesco.

The Daily Telegraph Friday August 3, 2012 pages 4-5

The immediate post Olympics is a key decision point for athletes and teams. For the athletes, whether to commit to another four year cycle. For the Gold medallist, Molmenti, Estanguet, Fer and Ballie/Stott whether to now bow out on a high or commit to the next four year cycle. London2012 has been Hilgertova’s 6th Olympics and Oblinger’s 5th. Some of the paddlers will retire and move to be part of coaching staff in either their own National Federation or for oversees athletes. From a British perspective also the decision whether to permanently relocate the canoe slalom to Lee Valley or return to the base in Nottingham. There is currently no canoe slalom club at Lee Valley and several athletes and coaches see this as a next logical step to build a legacy from Lee Valley.

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships are confirmed at Lee Valley for 2015. Given the enormous UK interest generated in the sport can we argue for a 5-10,000 seater stadium for 2015. Recalling the 1995 World’s in Nottingham it was primarily attended by athletes, coaches, managers, officials, friends and family plus only a few hundred members of the public who may have
found themselves stumbling upon the race. It did have BBC and Eurosport TV coverage and this helped inspire a new generation of paddlers. This year is not yet over in the International Canoe Slalom calendar with two World Cup races remaining. The 2013 World Championships will be super exciting. They are back at the Prague Troja artificial canoe slalom course.

It was incredible to see the old guard in the stands or alongside the course, previous Olympic medallists such as Gareth Marriott, Lisa Micheler-Jones, Scott Shipley, Thomas Schmidt, Pierepaolo Ferrazzi, Paul Ratcliffe, Helen Reeves and Campbell Walsh as well as other Olympian’s; Nick Smith, Mark Delaney, Melvyn Jones, Ian Raspin, Rachel Crosbee, Chris Arrowsmith, Paul Brain and Miriam Jerusalmi-Fox and coaches Hugh Mantle, Ken Langford and Alan Edge.  At the same time there were Great Britain junior and U23 team paddlers cheering on their role models and thousands of club slalom paddlers and recreational canoeists. Our hope is that London2012 really will inspire a next generation of Olympians. Lee Valley was voted by LOCOG based on a spectator exit poll as the best Olympic venue. Helen Reeves was also voted as one of the best TV commentators. Kev McHugh, Andy Maddock and Randy Ferguson brought the venue alive with some high energy live commentary. We encourage everyone to come back for the ICF World Canoe Slalom Championships in 2015 again here at Lee Valley.

Before rounding off, a most overwhelming congratulations to all 83 paddlers, our 15 London2012 Olympic medallists and to Performance Director, John Anderson MBE on behalf of GB Canoeing staff. A vision has been realized!  We have a World Class venue in London & South East of England, Olympic Gold in canoe slalom, Olympic C2 medals and a media spotlight on this most amazing sport.

This is THE picture of the whole Olympic canoe slalom event. It captures everything we have dreamed of and what has been achieved. Congratulations. L-R Nick Smith, Etienne Stott, Mark Delaney, Richard Hounslow, David Florence & Tim Baillie. Photo courtesy of Antony Edmonds AE Photos http://www.aephotos.co.uk

It has been an absolute privilege to bring you this daily blog over the last month, which has generated almost 5,000 direct views. It has provided an encyclopaedia of canoe slalom for London2012. I would like to acknowledge a bunch of people who have helped me along the way in no particular order, they are: Michael Barnett (MB23 Photography), Antony Edmonds (AE Photos), Rob van Bommel (Sportscene), Tony Tickle (although not up to the expected standard!) and Craig Morris for permission to use photographs and Nick Smith, Chris Arrowsmith, Gareth Marriott, Elaine Skilton, Anne Hounslow, Jimmy Jayes, Russ Smith, Colin Woodgate and others for some facts, figures and opinions. Finally for the links and newsfeeds on www.canoeslalom.co.uk, www.LondonOlympic2012.comwww.thesportfeed.com, www.canoeslalomworld.com, Ollie Williams BBC Sport and TalkSport. Much appreciated guys.

Tell everyone you know in the UK to buy a newspaper today. I hope you pick up a paddle. Visit www.bcu.org.uk. For now, au revoir.

John

Gold Day for GB Canoeing in C2 – France win second gold in K1W

This evening the pictures should do the talking

David, Richard, Tim, Etienne, Peter & Pavol (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

Two British C2 crews have beaten the formidable favourites the Hochschorner’s. At the time when the Hochschorner’s won their last Olympic gold, Great Britain did not qualify a C2 crew for Beijing. Olympic Gold in canoe slalom has been a dream. A GB World Championship or Olympic gold medal in C2 has been a vision. Dreams can come true. Congratulations Tim, Etienne, David & Richard for delivering gold and silver for TeamGB, GBCanoeing and the sport of Canoe Slalom and canoeing in general. Phenominal achievement. London2012 at Lee Valley has left a spectacular legacy.

Tim & Etienne with gold and Richard and David with Olympic silver in C2 (photo courtesy of AE Photos http://www.aephotos.co.uk)

Here are links to the C2 finals and K1W finals.

Penalties played a significant part in both competitions today and in the ladies saw four World Champions fail to make the podium (Hilgertova, Schornberg, Dukatova & Kuhnle). Huge congratulations to Emilie Fer who secured France’s second Olympic canoe slalom gold medal at Lee Valley. 18 year old Jessica Fox from Australia took an inspiring silver medal and Spain’s Maialen Chorraut took bronze.

Jessica Fox Australia, Emilie Fer France & Maialen Chourraut (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

Tomorrow a round up of what this means to the Sport of Canoe Slalom in the UK and a tribute to the 800 people who made Lee Valley voted as the best Olympic venue, stunning TV and delivered Great Britain’s first Olympic gold medal

Tears of joy as TeamGB go Gold & Silver in C2 canoe slalom

I am in tears….. Lee Valley has erupted as TeamGB’s Olympic canoe slalom team has delivered Gold and Silver. The impact of this achievement to canoeing and canoe slalom in the UK cannot be understated. It is Great Britain’s first ever gold medal in canoe slalom and it’s first ever Olympic medal in C2. The triple Olympic champions the Hochschorner’s had to settle for a bronze after they have utterly dominated C2 for more than 10 years.

Congratulations to Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott on gold in a fastest C2 clear run of 106.41. They were the first boat down in the final and had to wait for the remaining 5 boats down before they knew if their 106.41 seconds was quick enough. As the final progressed they stayed top and after the Hochschorner’s posted 108.28 with a two second penalty the British spectators erupted knowing it was now certain gold for TeamGB. The last boat down GB’s David Florence and Richard Hounslow although up on both split times could only cross the line to take Olympic silver.

Congratulations to the whole team. The coaches Nick Smith and Mark Delaney, themselves both Olympians who joined the paddlers in the water to celebrate.

Buy a newspaper on August 3rd. It will be a collector’s item as a piece of Olympic and Team GB history was made today at Lee Valley.

New heights for Great Britain canoe slalom C2

Great Britain’s C2 pair of David Florence and Richard Hounslow powered their way down in a strong 108.93 seconds with no penalties to win the semi-final in C2. Only 6 boats qualify for Thursday’s final in an hour and Great Britain for the first time ever has two C2 boats in an Olympic final. New heights. Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott qualified for Great Britain in sixth place. David and Richard will be the last off in the final.

As expected the three time Olympic champions qualified comfortably in second with a time off 109.04 seconds with a 2 second penalty. It was easily the fastest actual run time of 107.04 plus a 2 second penalty for hitting gate 5 on the top section of this Olympic Lee Valley Whitewater centre course. The Hochschorner’s pulled out the stops with a direct move on gate 18. Heat winners Klauss and Peche from France executed a similar move to qualify third.

With two TeamGB paddlers in the final of 6 boats it will be noisy and tense in this 12,000 sweater stadium.

And the Italian’s Went Wild!

Canoe Slalom Olympic Day 4 Review

Italy’s Daniele Molmenti Olympic Gold (phot courtesy of http://www.aephotos.co.uk)

The Italian’s among the 12,000 spectators, never known for being especially quiet, went absolutely wild before World No. 1 Slovenia’s Peter Kauzer had reached the final gates. Reigning World Champion Kauzer had won the semi-final with a 2 second penalty on gate 1 and then incurred a 2 second penalty on gate 3 in his final run, however, Kauzer’s challenges were not complete, on hitting gate 16 and then 22, the Italian’s began loudly celebrating realising that their Daniele Molmenti’s leading time of 93.43 was beyond the reach of Peter Kauzer. Daniele Molmenti, 27, himself on crossing the finish line on his final run knew he had pulled out the run of his life.  He punched the sky celebrating his Ultimate Run. He then had an agonizing wait for Poland’s Mateusz Polaczyk and then Peter Kauzer to complete their respective runs. The key to Molmenti’s astonishingly quick time may be the perfectly executed spin which he nailed twice in the gateline of gate 10, following the cross from the red and white upstream of gate 9. Molmenti is arguably the physically strongest paddler in canoe slalom; Olympic Gold now tops his already sparkling collection of World Champion Gold (2010), World Cup Gold (2010) and European Championship Golds (2009, 2011 & 2012). Many paddlers crossed high finding themselves up a foot above gate 10 where they span and wasted 1-3 seconds before they were clear of the poles to move on to the remaining gates. Michal Martikan will be the only paddler to have attempted and successfully pulled off gate 10 forwards, meaning without a spin to negotiate it.

Absolute delight for Daniele Molmenti (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

Vavrinec Hradilek, 25 from the Czech Republic had been the third down in the final posting a time of 94.78 clear, which made it the time for all other paddlers to beat to secure a medal. With the exception of Kauzer’s semi-final run of 96.02 seconds which had included a two second penalty all the medallists posted times faster than the semi-final runs on the same set of gates. In the end only Daniele Molmenti could go faster and clean to take a second Italian Olympic Gold medal in K1M. The first had been his Italian coach, Pierpaolo Ferrazzi in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Germany picked up its second medal in two days with a bronze for Hannes Aigner, 23. Despite his early spin above gate 10, he was super tight on both the red and white upstreams of gates 13 and 16. He finished with 94.92 seconds clear 1.49 seconds down on Molmenti and again like Sideris Tasiadis in the C1 yesterday he will be another German paddler to watch in Rio in 2016 if his form and race experience continue.

Again it was not Great Britain’s day of Gold as Richard Hounslow failed to reach the final in his first Olympics.

Day 5 K1W and C2 Medals Day Preview

Thursday is final day of the 5 day canoe slalom Olympic competition where we have the semi-finals and finals of the C1 – Canadian single class and K1W – women’s single kayak class. They are on a different course than their heat on Monday but the same course as the previous semi-final and finals. The 15 remaining K1W paddlers and remaining 8 C2 boats start at two minute thirty second intervals for a single run semi-final. In the semi-finals they go in reverse order of their finish in Monday’s heat. In the K1W class only 10 qualify for the final and in C2 only 6.

Looking back to the C2 heats Gauthier Klauss & Matthieu Peche’s first run was the quickest, although the legendary Hochschorner brothers looked very comfortable with two calm, controlled and consistent runs to place them 2nd in the C2. The Chinese crew of Minghai Hu and Junrong Shu improved upon an already impressive first run. Both Great Britain C2 crews of Tim Baillie & Etienne Stott and David Florence & Richard Hounslow qualified for the semi-finals. David Florence and Richard Hounslow having not advanced in their single classes combine for the C2 where they are bronze medalists from the World Championships in 2010 and winners of the first 2012 World Cup race.

Watch out for the following C2s, Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek from the Czech Republic who were Olympic bronze medalists in Athens and silver medalists in Beijing; Luka Bozic and Saso Taljat from Slovenia who were bronze medalists at the World Championships in 2009 and a final world for Peter and Pavol Hochschorner from Bratislava in Slovakia who have already become legendary within C2. They are the only athletes to have won four consecutive World Championship titles. They have won the World Cup series 10 times since 1999 and the European Championships 6 times. If they were to win gold at London2012 they would make history again as the only athletes to win four successive gold medals at the Olympic Games.

Looking back to the K1W heats, only three ladies posted times, with penalties under 100 seconds: Maialen Chourraut; Lizzie Neave and Maria Clara Giai Pron. Jessica Fox’s second run was outstanding with a 4th place finish in the heat from her second run ahead of double Olympic Champion, Hilgertova. Stepanka Hilgertova from the Czech Republic did what she needed to gain qualification in 5th place for her sixth consecutive Olympic Games. Lizzie Neave from Great Britain did two solid clear run performances, showing her home comfort with the course to finish second, with one of the fastest runs of the day. Maialen Chourraut, 2011 World Championship bronze medallist from Spain set by far the fastest run of the K1W including a 2 second penalty. Other potential favourites to watch remain, three recent World Champions, Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle, Germany’s Jasmin Schornberg and Slovakia’s Jana Dukatova.

Thursday Schedule:

  • Semi-final of the C2 starting at 1.30pm until 2pm. There will be 10 boats in the semi-final going in reverse order of their finish in the heat from Monday. The winner of the heat is last off. The semi-final is one run only.
  • Semi-final of the K1W starting at 2.12pm until 2.57pm. There will be 15 K1W boats in the semi-final going in reverse order of their finish in the heat from Monday.
  • Final run of C2 as decider for the Olympic medals starting at 3.18pm until 3.36pm. There will only be 6 C2 boats remaining for the final. Can Great Britain win Olympic gold or will Peter & Pavol Hochschorners land a historic 4th consecutive Olympic title?
  • Final run of the K1W as decider for the Olympic medals starting at 3.57pm until 4.26pm. There will only be 10 K1W boats remaining for the final.

After two days of finals, the Gold’s appear to be going to those nations who have previously won previous Olympics, suggesting strong potential for Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany in K1W and Slovakia and French in C2 (The USA C2 boat did not qualify for the semi-final). The spectators appear to be getting louder each day and on Thursday there will be two London2012 Olympic Gold medals for the taking. If you can’t be there tune in for spectacular TV coverage. The 5 days of Olympic canoe slalom competition concludes with the C2 and K1W medal ceremony after the field of play is called clear. Then we all go home, some happy, some sad and prepare for Rio in 2016! Come back here Thursday night for the final medal standings for the K1W and C2.

Wenlock at Lee Valley with the Fire Service (photo courtesy of John Gregory)

Canoe Slalom Olympic Day 2 Review and Day 3 C1 Medals Day Preview

Fabulous news for the Great Britain Team with all 5 boats having qualified for the respective semi-finals. Solid start.

Gripping canoe slalom TV coverage (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

First, a review of Monday’s exciting C2 and K1W heats before a preview of what to expect on Tuesday for the semi-final and finals of the C1. If you have not been lucky enough to be among the 12,000 spectators at Lee Valley, the TV coverage is looking amazing with great camera angles, definition and slow motion replays.

In the second day of heats, Gauthier Klauss & Matthieu Peche’s first run was the quickest C2 in 96.98 clear, although the legendary Hochschorner brothers looked very comfortable with two calm, controlled and consistent runs to place them 2nd in the C2. The Chinese crew of Minghai Hu and Junrong Shu laid down an impressive first run on which they improved further finishing 3rd only 2 seconds behind the French winners. Both Great Britain C2 crews of Tim Baillie & Etienne Stott and David Florence & Richard Hounslow all qualified for the semi-finals in 4th & 7th respectively. This is a dramatic statement to the world for Great Britain to place two C2 crews in an Olympic semi-final, together with the French, Slovakian’s, both the Czech Republic boats, Poles, Slovenian’s, Australian and Chinese. The Russian bronze C2 medallist from Beijing, Mikhail Kuznetsov and Dmitry Larionov were unable to make it through the cut.

C2 heat results l2012.cm/Q4EGFf

 

London’s exciting Olympic canoe slalom venue at Lee Valley (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

In the women’s kayak class, only three ladies posted times, with penalties, under 100 seconds: Maialen Chourraut; Lizzie Neave and Maria Clara Giai Pron. Stepanka Hilgertova from the Czech Republic did what she needed to gain qualification in 5th place for her sixth consecutive Olympic Games. Twenty six years her junior, Jessica Fox’s second run was outstanding with a 4th place finish in the heat ahead of double Olympic Champion, Hilgertova. The 18 year old Australian is the reigning Junior World Champion and will win an Olympic medal, likely gold, the only question being at which Olympics? A very happy Lizzie Neave from Great Britain did two solid clear run performances, showing her home comfort with the course to finish second, with one of the fastest runs of the day. Maialen Chourraut, 2011 World Championship bronze medallist from Spain set by far the fastest run of the K1W with a clear 88.75 including a 2 second penalty for touching one gate. The three recent World Champions, Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle, Germany’s Jasmin Schornberg and Slovakia’s Jana Dukatova are all safely through to the semi-finals. Ana Satila, the 16 year old from Brazil narrowly missed qualification but looked absolutely delighted with her performance at her first Olympics.

K1W heat results l2012.cm/Q4R1cs

Overall, all the expected Olympic medallists and World Champions have made it through, although it is disappointed to see no USA paddlers in the semi-finals for London2012.

Germany’s Sideris Tasiadis, 4th in the C1 heats, and ready for the semi-finals on Tuesday (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

Tomorrow, on day 3 of the Olympic canoe slalom competition we have the first of the semi-finals and finals with the Canadian single, C1, class. There is a different course from the last two days of heats with 23 gates and with no opportunity for the paddlers to practice. The 12 remaining C1 paddlers start at two minute thirty second intervals for a single run semi-final, with only 8 qualifying for the final. In the semi-finals they go in reverse order of their finish in Sunday’s heat, with double Olympic Champion, Michal Martikan from Slovakia therefore last man down. Great Britain’s David Florence will be aiming to go one better than his silver medal in Beijing. He is strong enough to cope with three straight days of competition. He has been consistent in the World Cup races this year and is the current World ranked number 1 C1 paddler. On Sunday, Martikan, showed his class with an awe inspiring fast and clean second run. Also to look out for in C1, Slovenia’s Benjamin Savsek was very impressive in the heat finishing 2nd less than three tenths of a second behind Martikan. Qualifying well was also Takuya Haneda from Japan and former Junior World Champion Sideris Tasiadis from Germany. Several paddlers capable of medals including double Olympian arch rival to Martikan, France’s Tony Estanguet. It will be tense competition right down to the very last run. Hold on to your seat and scream at the TV or in the stands at Lee Valley.

First of the semi-finals with the C1 starting at 1.30pm until 2.06pm. Final run of the C1 as decider for the Olympic medals, starting at 3.06pm until 3.30pm. The day concludes ten minutes after the field of play is called clear with the C1 Olympic medal ceremony. Ends 3.50pm

Tomorrow come back for the final medal standings for the C1 and a preview of the K1M semi-final and finals which take place at Lee Valley on Wednesday.

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