WAIS-AIS kayaker Alana Nicholls has won her maiden World Cup gold medal in the women’s K1 500m final in Racice, Czech Republic at World Cup 2.
Nicholls claimed the gold medal after winning the final to go one better than the silver medal she claimed in the same event in Poznan two weeks ago behind German Nicole Reinhardt.
The Bayswater paddler stuck to her race plan powering home in the last 200m to win in an impressive time of 1:52.749, finishing more than half a second clear of Denmark’s Henriette Engen Hansen, with Great Britain’s Rachel Cawthorn claiming bronze.
“It was really tough at the beginning, I wasn’t sure if there was a head wind, or whether it was swirly, and so I didn’t go out as hard as I usually would,” Nicholls said.
With about 200m to go, Nicholls was in the middle of the field but was confident of coming home strongly.
“All the girls were there with about 200 to go, so I knew I was going to have a little in the tank for the end, so was good to come home with a kick and come away with the win.”
Nicholls credited her Western Australian Institute of Sport coaches Ramon Andersson and Michael Pond for helping her improve her finishes, and improving her technique, which has made her a lot more efficient through the water.
Whilst Andersson, was pleased to see Nicholls execute the race plan they had been working on in training.
“We looked at her excellent form in the heats/semis and noticed she was probably overdoing it at the starts in the first ten seconds, so we worked on saving some of that energy for a good kick at the end,” Andersson said.
Following the conclusion of this event Nicholls is looking forward to the third ICF World Cup in Duisburg, Germany next weekend, and with London 2012 very much in the gold medallist’s mind she is looking forward to competing against some strong opposition from Hungary and Germany at the next World Cup.
“For London, obviously we have to qualify that position first, and that’s all I am thinking about, but I want to go to the Olympics and I don’t just want to go, I want to come home with a medal, if not gold, so that’s obviously in the back of my mind and that’s what drives me at training.”
Fellow WAIS paddlers Jesse Phillips and Steve Bird made the final of the K2 500m coming eighth after paddling strongly through the heat and semi finals. They could not quite repeat that effort in the K2 200m where they finished third in the C final.
The pair will look to an improved performance at this week’s World Cup 3 in Duisburg, Germany which will determine final selection for the World Championships in August.
The next ICFWorld Cup begins in Duisberg, Germany on May 27.
– Canoeing Australia