Kiwi canoeist qualifies for semifinal

New Zealand's Kelly Travers on her way to her first semifinal on the world cup stage overnight. Photo by Sue Clarke.
New Zealand’s Kelly Travers on her way to her first semifinal on the world cup stage overnight. Photo by Sue Clarke.

Rookie Kiwi canoeist Kelly Travers made the biggest waves on the first day of the final canoe slalom world cup of the season in France overnight.

The 22-year-old Tauranga-raised Travers, now living in Auckland, made the semifinals of the women’s C1 in only her second world cup, snatching the final spot in the second qualifying run with a 137.52sec time, slicing 26secs off her first-run effort.

“It’s a really tough course and in my first run, I just wasn’t on the pace, making a few errors,” Travers said. “My second run was a massive improvement – I had a solid top half and getting through to the semis made me pretty happy.”

The world cup is the final buildup before next month’s world championships in London, where paddlers will try to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Fellow New Zealander Jane Nicholas finished in 23rd, after rolling late in her run at the course in Pau to end her qualification chances.

Olympian Mike Dawson was also a casualty, missing qualifying in his first K1 run by just 0.10secs, touching a gate and incurring a 2sec penalty to finish 31st, with the top 30 going straight through.  He missed a gate in his second run, finishing well back, while Callum Gilbert was 49th and Finn Butcher 63rd. Ben Gibb finished 40th in the men’s C1, with Shaun Higgins 46th.

Another Olympian, Luuka Jones, is in action tonight, alongside Nicholas in the women’s K1, while Travers needs to finish in the top-10 in her semifinal to make the final.

“The plan is to have a solid, strong run and just have confidence in myself.  I’m excited and definitely nervous but it will be a great experience, no matter what happens.”

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