Five Star World Championships for Marathon

The GB team has enjoyed its best set of World Championship performances in a paddling generation, returning from South Africa with one world title and four other medals. The following is merely a summary of some of the races, with athletes across the board doing their sport and their clubs proud.

The highlight must be GB’s first world marathon title since 2010, with Lani Belcher (club credits to Elmbridge, Nottingham and even a nod to Brisbane!) winning the Women’s K1. Lani had come into the race after being narrowly beaten by multiple world champion Renata Csay at the Europeans, but a confident and dominant performance saw her sprint to gold ahead of Hungary’s new star Vanda Kizsli and Ireland’s Jenny Egan, who is a familiar face at UK clubs and races.

Lani also doubled up with Nottingham team mate Hayleigh Mason to take bronze in the Women’s K2. Two 26km races in the space of less than 24 hours is a hell of a task, but the Normplan stars’ Clifton world record had clearly set them up well.

Leighton Buzzard’s Charlie Smith took silver in the junior men’s K1, continuing a strong tradition of British performances in this race. It was an exciting one with two Hungarians smashing the field on the first lap, but with the help of a young South African, Charlie was able to catch and overhaul one of them to take second.

Longridge CC’s Alex Lane has been a revelation, launching herself from beginner to world bronze medallist in the U23 Women’s K1 in a handful of seasons. This time in 2015, Alex was falling in a few times a week and training for a non-stop DW – six months later she’d broken the women’s K2 record in that race and another six months on, was racing her first world champs. Like Nottingham, Longridge is a club with a great vibe and a world-class, but entirely voluntary coach.

Chelmsford’s Emma Russell and Richmond’s Freya Peters took bronze in the Junior Women’s K2. This crew have managed a string of great GCSE results as well as two major championship medals this year, juggling both with great support from their parents, coaches and clubs. And still only 16!

The whole team have performed brilliantly this season, so congratulations to all those also racing for GB at the Worlds:

Joe Petersen (Banbury) and Oscar McKittrick (Elmbridge) – 4th JMK2; Magnus Gregory (Longridge) – 10th in U23MK1, and 11th in SMK2 with Charlie Smith; Flo Duffield (Norwich) – 13th in JWK1; Lizzie Broughton (Richmond) – 7th in SWK1 and 13th in SWK2 with Alex Lane; and Keith Moule (Chelmsford) – 23rd in SMK1.

And a final note to all those behind the scenes who made it possible to get the team there: Dave Sackman (Reading) and Graham Warland (Banbury) who sorted all the remarkably complex logistics, Dave Enoch (Nottingham) on chequebook, and Dyson and Ali Pendle who travelled with the team. It was a difficult task but the team have rewarded you all with excellent results.