New Zealand kayaker Marty McDowell has taken a big step towards Olympic selection at the Oceania canoe sprint championships in Adelaide today.
The 28-year-old Mana paddler did enough in his K1 1000m heat to qualify a boat for Rio de Janeiro, subject to New Zealand Olympic Committee approval.
He finished second behind Australia’s Daniel Bowker – with Australia already having qualified a K1 1000m spot – while paddlers from the Cook Islands and Guam finished well adrift.
However, it was McDowell’s semifinal performance which was most impressive, clocking a slick 3mins 31.73secs, qualifying for tomorrow’s A final and beating Canada’s former Olympic gold medalist Adam van Kouverdan into third.
“That was a really tough semi and I was stoked to beat Adam, who’s one of the best around,” McDowell said. “Getting through the heat was pretty good because there was so much riding on it and you never want to take a race like that lightly but the semifinal gave me a much better idea of where I was at. Training has been going really well and I couldn’t have asked for a better buildup, so I’m looking forward to the final.”
McDowell’s success made up for Scott Bicknell’s disappointment, with the K1 200m specialist missing out on the Oceania spot in yesterday’s heats. Although Bicknell paddled well and finished third in today’s final, Australian Steve Bird was too strong, cementing the continental qualifier.
All is not lost for Bicknell, however – he teams up with Craig Simpkins tomorrow for a crack at the K2 200m, with Australia having already qualified through the world championships.