Canoe slalom: Young Kiwi paddlers take on world

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Tauranga paddler Callum Gilbert  in action. Photo/File
Tauranga paddler Callum Gilbert in action. Photo/File

New Zealand's rapidly rising kayaking talent will showcase their skills on the world stage this week, at the 2016 ICF junior and under-23 canoe slalom world championships in Poland.

The 14-strong team features five under-23 paddlers - Callum Gilbert, Finn Butcher, Kelly Travers, Anna Higgins and Patrick Washer - who have been racing the senior ICF World Cup series this season.

They'll be joined by junior paddlers Zack Mutton, Callum Aitken, Kensa Randle, Josh Bell and Otis Rayner, with Theo Pepper, Courtney Williams, Kaydi O'Connor-Stratton and James Thwaite also racing in the under-23 division.

The six-day event will be held at the Kolna world championships course, on the banks of the Wisla River just out of Kraków, with the Kiwi paddlers getting plenty of practice in before the under-23 and junior C1 competition starts tonight.

Paddlers also warmed up by racing the ECA European Open Junior Slalom Cup in the German city of Augsburg recently, where Mutton, Randle and Bell all made finals, with Mutton finishing third in one of the under-16 K1 finals.

Gilbert, meanwhile, will be hoping to maintain his impressive world cup form, after qualifying for the semifinals in all three rounds, including a best finish of 24th in the first round of the season in Italy.

Butcher and Travers have also made world cup semifinals within the last year.

While the C1 men's divisions opening tonight (NZ time), the K1 men and C1 women will be in action tomorrow night, followed by the K1 women on Thursday night. All racing will be live-streamed through Planet Canoe's channel on Youtube.

NZ team:
Junior:
K1 men: Zack Mutton, Callum Aitken. K1 women: Kensa Randle. C1 men: Josh Bell, Callum Aitken, Otis Rayner.
Under-23:
K1 men: Callum Gilbert, Finn Butcher, Theo Pepper. K1 women: Anna Higgins, Courtney Williams, Kaydi O'Connor-Stratton. C1 men: Patrick Washer, Callum Gilbert, James Thwaite. C1 women: Kelly Travers, Kaydi O'Connor-Stratton.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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