Tauranga kayaker Callum Gilbert will head into next week's under-23 canoe slalom world championships with his tail up after a top 30 finish in the latest Canoe Slalom World Cup in Germany.
Gilbert finished 29th in the men's K1 on the tricky Augsburg course, clocking 109.61secs to be 13.53s off the pace and 10.97s off making his first-ever final at that level.
He'll join a strong New Zealand team at the junior worlds in Italy, happy to have reclaimed the form that took him to five consecutive world cup semifinals in 2016.
"I'd like to think I've turned a corner since last year - it took a long time but I do feel the quality of my performances increasing again and hopefully an element of consistency is coming back too," Gilbert said.
"Making the semifinals at these last two World Cups has definitely been a confidence boost and now I just need to focus on delivering good runs in the semifinals."
The semifinals have proved a hurdle for his teammates too, with Tauranga's Luuka Jones unable to break through into the finals yet this year, despite consistently making the weekend rounds in all three world cups.
Jones had the sixth-fastest K1 time on Saturday but three touches pushed her out of the top-10 into 16th, while she was 18th in her C1 semifinal overnight amid a tough course set-up.
Ahead of her, Australia's Jessica Fox continued her unparalleled dominance, with a slashing win in the women's C1 keeping her unbeaten record in 2018 intact, three in the K1 and three in the canoe.
Slovakia's Peter Kauzer also picked up a two-second penalty, but was still fast enough to sneak home in the men's final, ahead of Czech Jiri Prskavec in 94.86 seconds.
Meanwhile, Tauranga's Mike Dawson was knocked out in the semifinals of the extreme slalom after a tough week of illness caught up with him.
The World Cup season takes a break until the end of August, when competition will resume at Tacen, Slovenia.
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