The European Olympic second round canoe sprint qualifiers kick off this Wednesday in Duisburg. This is a chance for counties who failed to qualify places at last years world championships to claim the few remaining spots that are distributed between continents. The rules mean that athletes that have previously qualified places can’t qualify more boats, even in different events. Second round qualification is notoriously hard, with only two spaces for K1 events and one for K2 and canoe. However, the upshot is that people who do win a coveted place tend to do very well at the games, for instance the Russian K2 who won gold at London qualified through the second round process. GB have put forward a strong team with several realistic chances to qualify Olympic places.
Angela Hannah is doubling up to contest both the 200m K1 and the 500m K2 alongside Lani Belcher. The pair initially though they had claimed their spots after their 9th place finish in the final of the World Championships on reallocated quota places. However, following a lengthy court case involving several countries, the court awarded the quota places to women’s K4 rather than the K2. Having been so close to qualifying last year, and with good early season form, beating the course record at Nottingham, Hannah and Belcher are in a strong position. Angela is also competing in the K1 200m. She was a fair way off qualifying at the World championships last year, finishing 19th after winning the C final. However, when she executes her start perfectly she has the potential to finish far higher up the rankings, with a top two finish possible.
2012 Olympic champion Ed McKeever has yet to secure his chance to defend his title. McKeever was lacking form at last years world champs, finishing 17th. However, he won a bronze medal earlier that year at the Baku European games, with many of the guys he beat qualifying for the Olympics. This could well be the closest fought event, with only fractions of a second splitting the top guys. McKeever has got a great track record of performing when it matters, consistently making the podium at international events so last years blip may well be a one off. It would be a mistake to write the reigning Olympic champion off. Continue reading