On the 16th of August Alistair McCreery, Elliott Davidson, Cade Ryan and I (Jake Cochrane) set off to Krakow to prepare for the Junior and Under 23 European Championships. The competition was being held at the end of the August. We got there early morning on the 16th and were able to get a session on the course that afternoon. Elliott, Cade and I had all been to the course before as we competed at the Senior World Cup here during June so we knew the course slightly better than Ali. Cade and Elliott were being coached by Eoin Rhienish, while Ali and I were being coached by Matt McKnight.
So we had 11 days of training on the course before competing on the 26th for qualifications. It took a few sessions to get fully accustomed to the course again but after that we were getting some really good quality sessions done on the course. We trained twice a day up until the Sunday before the competition, doing progressive sessions, technique, tough technique, full runs, halves etc. On the Thursday I hurt my lower back somehow, I still don’t know what exactly happened to it, but it put me out of training for two days unfortunately. This is not ideal before a big competition but as I had been on the course in June I was able to deal with it pretty well. I was also able to get some Physio on it by Peter the Polish physiotherapist. After this we had 5 more days before the competition which ran really smoothly with us all paddling well.
So the night before the qualifications day had come and we were all feeling prepared to race. The afternoon before the race was demonstration runs, which is when people who are not racing in the competition paddle the course that has been set for the race days to give people an idea of the correct lines to take. Wednesday evening saw us attend the opening ceremony were we did the flag parade, listened to some speeches and then watched the fireworks display.
So race day came around and Ali was the first of us to race as the juniors were off in the morning. The new qualification rules mean that in K1 men the first 20 in heat one go through to the semi-finals, and then out of the remaining competitors the top ten of heat two go through. Ali had a good first run, picking up one touch but had a quick run time placing him 33rd, not enough to go through to semi-finals after heat one. This meant he had to do a second run. His second run was a really good run, even quicker than his first one. But again he picked up one touch, on the second last gate. He didn’t find out until he got changed that this touch kept him out of the semi-finals. Disappointing, but that’s the way it goes. He finished 33rd overall, a very good result.
My qualification run was in the afternoon. In C1 men 15 go through form the first heat, then 5 go through out of the remaining paddlers in heat two. My first run felt really good after I had finished it, picking up a single touch on gate 8. However the time was not very quick. I felt I lost time in a few of the upstreams by coming in too low. I was sitting 26th after first runs. This meant I had to do a second qualification run. My second run was going very well up to gate 15 where I changed my plan at the last minute and tried to take the gate forwards, a gate which most people were doing as a spin. This did not pay off as I ended up getting caught by the flow and being pushed down very low into gate 16, losing about 8 seconds. This caused me the mess up the last three gates also, losing another 4 seconds as well as another touch. I placed 30th overall. Reviewing my runs, I can tell that it was a bad idea to deviate from the plan. Something I probably won’t do again, as it may have put me close to making the semi-finals. But I learnt a lot from this and it was a very good experience.
Cade and Elliott competed in the Under 23 K1 mens. Their first runs both were not good enough to get them into the semi-finals after heat one, even though Elliott had a very good run. Elliot was 31st and Cade was 36th after heat one. So they had to do a second run. Both their second runs didn’t go to plan with Elliott picking up 2 touches and Cade picking up 3. This will pretty much put you straight out of the running as it was very tight competition. Cade finished 51st overall and Elliott finished 52nd.
On Behalf of Ali and myself, I would like to say thanks to Matt for coming out to coach us, and for CANI sending him out here with us.