A season of slog and split-focus has come up trumps for kayaker Luuka Jones after she added to New Zealand’s greatest canoe slalom world championship campaign in France overnight.
A day after missing out on the C1 final, Jones made amends in the K1, reaching the final and finishing fourth. It’s the best finish by a New Zealander at the championships – edging Donald Johnstone’s fifth-place in 1987 – and followed on from Mike Dawson’s seventh in the men’s K1 final a day earlier.
“I was gutted not to make the C1 final yesterday but it was so cool to see Mike make the final yesterday and I took a lot of inspiration from that,” Jones said. “I was happy to get back into a good headspace to make the final, after a really competitive semifinal, and was stoked to finish fourth.”
Australian Jess Fox scraped into the final in 10th spot but then set a withering time of 97.14secs, which ultimately proved unbeatable. Slovakia’s Jana Dukatova was more than four seconds back in 101.76, with 2017’s overall World Cup winner, Germany’s Ricarda Funk, third in 102.62.
Jones picked up two 2sec penalties, finishing 10.06secs behind Fox in 107.20, but was pleasantly surprised by her placing.
“I didn’t think I would be fourth with the run I put down but lots of girls make mistakes – I think they were trying to push and match Jess’s time. I was disappointed with the quality of my run, as I had two touches and felt like I was fighting the water a bit, but fourth is a great result.”
The result showed her silver medal at last year’s Rio Olympics was no aberration and bolstered her ambitions to target both the C1 and K1 in Tokyo in 2020.
It’s been a tough season, trying to balance K1 and C1, but Campbell (coach Campbell Walsh) and I have been experimenting with a different style of training to cater to developing both classes and I think it is working. We based in Pau to give ourselves the best chance of doing well at the worlds and it’s worked out.”
Both Jones and Dawson will now line up in the extreme slalom divisions tonight on the last day of the championship.