Dawson delivers at canoe slalom worlds

New Zealand kayaker Mike Dawson on his way to 12th at the canoe slalom world championships in Deep Creek, Maryland, today. Photo by Canoe Slalom NZ
New Zealand kayaker Mike Dawson on his way to 12th at the canoe slalom world championships in Deep Creek, Maryland, today. Photo by Canoe Slalom NZ

New Zealand kayaker Mike Dawson has scored his best result at the canoe slalom world championships in the United States today, narrowly missing a spot in tomorrow’s final.

The Tauranga paddler finished 12th in the semifinals, bettering the 16th he collected when qualifying for the London Olympics in 2011.

His 105.66sec time, on the tricky Adventure Sports Center International course on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, was just 1.13secs away from progressing to the top-10 final.

“I’m a bit gutted to have come so close to making the final but overall I’m stoked – this is my best worlds result and it came after a tough start to the year when I had my wrist operated on,” Dawson said. “The semifinal course was really technical and particularly tricky and I made a few small mistakes but it was great to lay down a good, solid run in the semifinal of a world championship, on a hard course, under pressure.”

Dawson took a while to warm up in his first qualifying run, hitting four gates and finishing nearly 19secs off the pace to lie in 45th, but a much-improved second heat of 101.22secs pushed him into 22nd and comfortably qualified him for the semifinals.

In contrast, his fellow Kiwi and Olympian Luuka Jones comfortably qualified for Monday’s K1 women’s semifinals with a superb first heat. Jones had a faultless run clocking 114.68secs, the fifth-fastest of the session, and elected not to paddle the second run, eventually qualifying in 10th.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever had the luxury of doing that but the conditions were pretty miserable and I felt it better to keep my powder dry for the semifinals,” Jones said.

Young C1 paddler Ben Gibb also had his best world championship result, finishing 39th, after fighting back from a missed gate in his first run. Shaun Higgins also made positive gains since coming back after his shoulder surgery last year, finishing 45th.

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