At the end of August CANI athlete’s Jake Cochrane and Eoin Teague alongside Talent Coach Matt McKnight set off for Solkan, Slovenia to prepare for the Junior and U23 European Championships. The athletes arrived approximately a week before the competition
Unlike many other courses on the international circuit nowadays Solkan is still based on a natural river. Both athletes had done a hard block of training leading up into the competition so only trained once a day doing progressive sessions, technique and full runs. Although it does not have many big features it is a very physically demanding course and small mistakes can be very costly as they athletes were finding out in training.
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. Normally the athletes would attend the opening ceremony but unfortunately as Jake was racing early the next morning the decision was made to stay at the accommodation and rest
Race day came around and Jake was the first athlete to race just after 9:30am local time. The new qualification rules meant that in C1 men 15 go through form the first heats, then 5 go through out of the remaining paddlers in heat two. Jake had a good first run with a couple of small time loses unfortunately he picked up one touch and ended up in 24th place after first runs, not enough to go through to semi-finals after heat one. This meant he had to do a second run. His second run was one of the best runs he has ever produced putting him into 3rd place with 3 to go. Unfortunately the final three boats were athletes with a strong background in Canoe Slalom. The last boat down with Jake sitting in 5th place was Ryan Westley who knocked out Jake and ultimately went on to win the U23 European Championships. Although disappointing to just miss the cut this was a very strong performance from a young athlete..
Eoin was up next competing just at 10am local time. The new qualification rules meant that in K1 men 20 go through form the first heats, then 10 go through out of the remaining paddlers in heat two. Eoin had a conservative first run with a couple of small time loses throughout the whole run and ended up in 33rd place after first runs, not enough to go through to semi-finals after heat one. This meant he had to do a second run. Unfortunately his second run didn’t go to plan, he pushed hard from the start line and was progressing well but at the bottom of the course tried to cut the line too tight and picked up a 50 second penalty putting him out of contention and finished in 26th.
These results show that Northern Irish athletes have the potential to compete at an international level and we can’t wait to see how they get on next year.