SASI paddlers have bright futures
South Australian Sport Institute Head Coach Nathan Luce believes that the future is bright for talented trio Callum Dunn, Francesca Kidd (pictured) and Ruby Backen following some impressive results at the National Canoe Sprint Championships in Penrith.
Photo - Sportscene
The trio lead a strong contingent of sprint paddlers coming through the system in South Australia.
Dunn in particular demonstrated his elite potential by finishing third in the open men’s K1 200 final. A big improvement on his seventh place finish a year earlier.
The result saw Dunn retain his mantle as the top U23 paddler in the country.
“From our side of things, Callum Dunn has obviously stepped up in the opens, so he is still the top in U23 and now he is knocking on the door for the opens in the K1 (200)”, Luce said.
With just 12 months until the Olympic team will be selected, Luce said he believes that Dunn is in with a sniff.
“Anything is possible in that event. The whole final was really tight and Callum was a tenth and a half behind Steve (Bird) and a few hundredths behind Brodie (Holmes) so he is pretty motivated off that result to be that close,” Luce said.
“It is a game of real centimetres now so we have to look and see what we can improve to take him to the next level in the next few years and I am sure he will be pretty motivated after this result.”
Luce was also encouraged by the performances of a couple of other U23 men.
“In the 1000 metres we have Jayden Ellis and Sean Lohse transitioning to the U23s from juniors and they are the third ranked U23 K2 after this regatta so I am happy with that but I think they are looking for a little bit more to look for an upset over the top four boys. But I think they have bright futures as well, they are young guys and they are hungry.”
The junior women have been equally impressive, with Kidd winning the U18 K1 500 final in 2:01.48.
“She was second last year behind Josie Bulmer who was also with us, and we expected big things from her this year being a second year junior,” Luce said.
It was a significant improvement by Kidd in the K1 500 final after she was outshone by emerging Avoca teenager Ella Beere at GP2 a fortnight earlier.
Luce felt Kidd was feeling the pressure from Beere’s strong performances at GP2.
“I think that put a little bit of pressure on her but we tried to take that off a little bit and remind her what she does well in racing and I think she calmed herself down and executed a really good final to win the 500”, Luce said.
Kidd also combined with fellow South Australian Ruby Backen to win the U18 K2 500 final. Another junior who Luce thinks has a big future in the sport.
“Ruby is in her first year of U18s so there is a bright future there for her. We are pretty happy to have another two juniors in the top four and winning the two races so it is good.”
Luce said he believes they will be in contention for an A final at the ICF Junior World Championships.
“Look it is tough. They did a 1:51 and Fran’s not consistently under two minutes so I think if you want to make finals at the juniors you need to be well under two minutes in that 1:40’s zone to make finals so we will see.”
“Juniors improve at a rapid rate so who knows what a few more months will do for them but I think for them a dream scenario would be an A final but I would say right now that they are still at that B final level but you never know.”
The National Canoe Sprint Championships will conclude in Penrith on Sunday.