Kayaking: Jones maintains Olympic form

By David Leggat

Luuka Jones. Photo / APN
Luuka Jones. Photo / APN

New Zealand kayaker Luuka Jones has continued her impressive buildup to the London Olympics, making the semifinals of the latest canoe slalom world cup round in Pau, France overnight (NZT).

After making the semifinals of a weather-disrupted first round in Cardiff last week, the 23-year-old came out firing in her qualifying runs on Pau's purpose-built course.

Her 100.98sec first run was the third-fastest of the morning, with a two-second penalty touch pushing her back to fifth and a slightly slower second run was still good enough to qualify her for the semifinal in 12th place.

"The semifinal today was tough - I was gunning the top section then got off-line and struggled to get back on," Jones said.

"I lost a lot of time in a couple of the up-streams, which was disappointing and meant I had a slow run time but I'm not too worried as there are good things to take from this race and I am really pleased with where I am at."

Her 128.35 time included a penalty touch and pushed her back to 26th overall.

Spain's Maialen Chourraut took out the final, ahead of local paddler Carole Bouzidi and Great Britain's Elizabeth Neave, but Jones was delighted with her consistency this season with her second Olympic campaign just over a month away.

"I've made both semifinals this season quite easily and I also know now that with a good semifinal run, I can definitely make the finals, which was less of a possibility in the past couple of years. It is great to be putting down fast times and making big improvements in the Olympic year and so far, it's been a good build-up toward the Games. It would be nice to lay down a good semifinal run and make the final at the next world cup in Spain next week."

Fellow Olympic-bound Kiwi Mike Dawson also made the semifinals with a slick 92.40sec second run putting him 19th but hit trouble in his semifinal and eventually finished 39th.

Frenchman Etienne Daille won the men's K1 final in 100.17secs, ahead of Jan Vondra (Czech Republic) and Austrian Lucien Delfour.

- APNZ

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