Rio qualification soothes Jones’ London pain

Luuka Jones is hoping to harness world championship pain to fuel her third Olympic canoe slalom campaign in Rio de Janeiro.
The 26-year-old kayaker came agonisingly close to qualifying for the top-10 final at the world championships in London today, finishing just 0.10secs outside the medal race in 11th.
Two 2sec penalties derailed an otherwise superb run on the brutal Lee Valley course, although she comfortably qualified a K1 women’s spot for New Zealand at next year’s Olympics.
“I wasn’t even concentrating on that this weekend but qualifying is obviously a really good outcome,” an otherwise disappointed Jones said. “I was really lucky to qualify for Beijing so young and London was a great experience but now I’ve got so much support behind me, Rio should be a really good Games.  There’s enough time to have a good solid buildup and work on a few things.”
It’s been a tough season for the Tauranga-raised paddler, who struggled for consistency through the world cup season.  Her raw times were as good as anyone in the field but penalties kept dropping her out of contention.  And so it proved in her semifinal, clocking a raw time of 107.51secs, which would’ve been the sixth-fastest and close to the medals in the final.
“My coach and I had a really good plan and I nailed some parts of it but there were just a few parts I didn’t execute that well and lost a bit of time. Two touches put me back a lot – there were a lot of mistakes out there today and it just shows the difficulty of the course.”
Katerina Kudejova (Czech Republic) won the final with a time of 103.62, from Germans Ricarda Funk and Melanie Pfeifer, with only Kudejova and Funk recording clear runs as the tough course bared its teeth.
Jones will watch fellow Kiwi Mike Dawson attempt to go one better than her in the men’s K1 tomorrow, with Dawson top-qualifer for the semifinals, then she’ll fly back to New Zealand on Monday determined to come back stronger next year.
“It was a good moment sitting on the start line at a world championship and although I didn’t pull off the run that I wanted, that’s the nature of the sport.”


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