World Cup bonus for kayaker Gilbert
Callum Gilbert aims to make the most of a fortunate twist of fate at this weekend’s second canoe slalom World Cup of the season in Poland.
Tauranga kayaker Callum Gilbert will be chasing more World Cup success in Poland this weekend. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
The Tauranga paddler will line up with a six-strong New Zealand team in Kraków tomorrow night after initially missing selection in the men’s K1 ranks behind Mike Dawson, Jack Dangen and Finn Butcher.
Butcher has skipped the first two rounds to focus on the upcoming under-23 world championships, however, while Dangen is returning home after this weekend, meaning Gilbert - initially named as reserve - gets a chance to reclaim the form which saw him make all five World Cup semifinals two years ago.
“Being able to do the first four World Cups is great given the selection result - I’ve always enjoyed racing and I’m very grateful to be able to do the amount I am doing this year,” Gilbert said.
He came agonisingly close to making the semifinals with Dawson in Slovakia last weekend, with a fast raw time in his first run marred by a missed gate and a single touch knocking him out of the repechage round, just 0.37secs off the top-10 who progressed through.
And he’s got plenty of experience in Kraków, having finished 18th at the under-23 worlds at the same venue two years ago.
“It’s quite a fast-paced course with lots of things coming at you quickly and I really enjoy it - I’m looking forward to the challenge of that along with some good competition this weekend.”
Dawson and Luuka Jones were the only Kiwis to progress out of the heats last week, with Jones making both the C1 and K1 semifinals. Both struggled with touches at that stage, although Dawson went all the way through to the extreme slalom final, where he picked up silver.
Racing will start Friday night (NZ time).
K1 men: Mike Dawson, Jack Dangen, Callum Gilbert. C1 men: Ben Gibb. K1 women: Luuka Jones, Courtney Williams. C1 women: Luuka Jones. Extreme slalom: Mike Dawson.