Tauranga's Callum Gilbert has qualified second-fastest in the K1 at the ICF junior and Under-23 canoe slalom world championships overnight.
The champs are held in held in Krakow, Poland, and he was one of three New Zealanders to move through to the semifinals on the first day of individual racing on the Kolna slalom course, with fellow Under-23 teammates Kensa Randle and Jack Dangen also making it through qualifying.
Gilbert's effort was easily the highlight, however, as he posted a 93.53sec time - which included a touch and 2sec penalty on Gate 16 - to be just behind leading qualifier and 2018 European K1 champion David Llorente (Spain) and ahead of a clutch of Olympians and world age group champions. It's the third successive year Gilbert has made the Under-23 semifinals.
It has continued Gilbert's positive season, after picking up New Zealand's best K1 men's result - a fifth - at the opening World Cup of the season in London last month.
Dangen, meanwhile, also qualified for the semifinals in his first run, with a 98.45sec effort leaving him 22nd and comfortably inside the top-30 who progressed from the first round. His run included four seconds' worth of penalties, however, and his raw time of 94.45 would've been quick enough for seventh overall.
In contrast, Central Otago paddler Randle just squeezed into the semifinals in the final qualifying spot, after finishing 10th in her repechage run. She was 34th after her fourth run and picked up eight seconds of touches in her repechage but still had the speed to finish 10th with a 115.65sec run.
Her teammate Courtney Williams was also left lamenting touches - she was 26th after the first heat and finished 16th in the repechage after touching three gates.
Callum Aitken was the other Kiwi in action, finishing 57th in his first run in the men's K1 and 23rd in his repechage.
Otherwise, the day was dominated by Czech paddlers, qualifying quickest in three of the four races contested and winning the only gold medal on offer in the junior mixed C2 final.
New Zealand's best under-18 paddlers are set for action tonight .
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