American Clay Wright won his third consecutive men’s squirt world title and Ottilie Robinson-Shaw picked up Great Britain’s first gold medal of the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Nottingham on Wednesday.
55-year-old Wright secured the title with his final ride of the men’s final, securing 1486.67 points in a routine that leap-frogged him up the leaderboard and gave him gold medals to go with his title in San Juan in 2017 and Sort in 2019.
“It’s squirt boating, it’s fun, it’s something I do a lot just for fun, and sometimes I score points and sometimes I don’t,” Wright said.
“I was going for a really high scoring ride, and for some reason I did better when I thought I would just do the ride I practiced.
“I’ve never been one who really looks to win something, I just like to get better and better and better. I like to show off, and I like to show that I didn’t suck and I did actually work a little bit and practiced this stuff and can compete with the big boys.”
Robinson-Shaw carries great expectations into this week’s world championships, and the British star got her campaign for a potential three gold medals off to a successful start with a convincing win in the women’s squirt final.
The 20-year-old credited a tough training regime during Covid lockdowns with her squirt success.
“I felt quite nervous today, I haven’t eaten very much, but I love kayaking and to be out there and have home crowd and my family watching, it couldn’t be better,” Robinson-Shaw said.
“When the whitewater course was closed and I couldn’t travel to go kayaking, every day I walked down to the beach, my dad sat in his deckchair, and it was freezing cold and the waves were awful and my boat was filled with sand.
“I just pushed through and it was amazing, and I guess that’s why I’m good, from that moment, because I remember that it was hard but I did it.”
British teammate Tamsyn McConchie took the silver, more than 600 points behind Robinson-Shaw, and Japan’s Hitomi Takaku the bronze.
Earlier in the day in women’s K1 qualifying Robinson-Shaw made it a hat-trick of top qualifying performances, posting a score of 1256.67 to head into the semi-finals in first position.
British teammate Lowri Davies was second best, finishing with 1213.34.
France’s Marlene Devillez won a silver at both the 2017 and 2019 ICF world championships, and qualified third fastest for the semi-finals.
“It’s been a while, I’m so happy to be back and to see everyone again, all the girls – we are like a big family,” Devillez said.
“I have two silver medals, one in San Juan and one in Sort, so here for sure I will look for the gold. We will see, I can just try and do my best every day. I have learnt the back loop, and I am more consistent in my phoenix monkey.
“I’ve also been doing a lot more creek boating, and I’ve learned a lot in my mind. How to deal with pressure, how to push yourself.”
Poland’s Zofia Tula won bronze at the 2019 world titles in Sort, Spain, and posted the fifth best score in Nottingham on Wednesday.
“I didn’t do every move that I wanted to do, but I will do them on the next level,” Tula said.
“During lockdown it was hard to travel, hard to paddle, but we’re back so I’m happy. I’ve improved a lot, I have a couple of new tricks. I’m just going to focus on my runs and see what will happen.”
Another Brit topped the leaders board in the men’s canoe decked preliminaries, with James Ibbotson posting a score of 1533.33, finishing ahead of American Landon Miller with Frenchman Abel Thevenet third.
In the men’s open canoe surface semi-final Germany’s Philip Josef qualified first, American Jordan Poffenberger second and Ireland’s Eoghan Kelly the bronze.
WOMEN’S KAYAK SQUIRT
MEN’S KAYAK SQUIRT
Pics by Antony Edmonds/A E Photos