The end of the typical summer racing season saw what was in fact the beginning of the reduced calendar of racing in Canoe Slalom for 2020. While senior competition had plenty of action planned it was also great to see some Junior and U23 racing able to take place, to keep the future of our sport looking bright. This took the form of the Junior & U23 European Championships, held in Krakow, Poland from 1st to the 4th of October. Team Ireland looked in great shape too with Robert Hendrick (C1M), Noel Hendrick (K1M) and Alistair McCreery (K1M) all coming to the event off the back of some great racing in the Senior European Championships, and Tom Morley in the Junior K1M having had a great training block over on the continent leading in to the race.
Robert Hendrick got the ball rolling on the Thursday in qualification for the C1M, showing some excellent attacking racing to qualify through to the semi final in 7th, including a 2 second penalty on the final gate keeping him from placing even higher up the rankings. Not to be outdone by his twin brother Noel Hendrick followed this up on the Friday morning in the U23 K1 Men, qualifying to the semi final in a time of 94.55, which included a 2 second penalty. Alistair McCreery had to wait until the second round of qualification to secure his semi final spot, but put in a strong performance to finish 7th in the second round to book his place for Sundays semis. On the Junior side Tom Morley made a huge improvement from his first run finishing 14th in the second round of qualification, barely missing out on the semi final. The 3 K1 Men then teamed up that afternoon to compete in the team event, a daunting task for Junior, Tom Morley, to race up in the U23 category for the team event. He none the less rose to the occasion to help the team to 7th in the team final. The C1 Men unfortunately didn’t have a full team to race and follow up on the Senior Medal success from Prague.
K1 Men Team
Saturday was again the business end of the competition where medals were up for grabs in the C1M. Robert Hendrick was Irelands hope for Saturday, having been very strong in qualification. He was equally strong in the semi final, again attacking the course well from top to bottom. The run left him agonisingly close to a spot in the top 10 final, finishing in 11th. A great performance without the result it deserved.
Sunday unfortunately provided no redemption. Both Alistair McCreery incurred 50 second penalties in the K1 Men semi final, keeping them out of contention for a chance at contending for the medals in the final.
The event still gave our young teams a chance to get some racing under their belt in 2020, and a chance to adjust to what may be the new normal for competitions for the next while, with COVID-19 restrictions needing to be in place for the safety of the competitors and organisers to allow these events to run.