Hobart paddlers secure place at junior and under-23 worlds

DERWENT River Canoe Club paddlers Kate Eckhardt and Daniel Watkins will represent Australia at the 2014 ICF canoe slalom junior and under-23 world championships in April.
The pair secured their places following three days of exciting racing at the Oceania Championships in Penrith.
Eckhardt paddled beyond her years to record top 10 finishes in the K1W and C1W events.
The 16-year-old Friends student was particularly impressive in the Olympic discipline, K1, finishing eighth amongst a highly competitive international field.
Overall she finished first in the junior K1 and second in junior C1 behind Noemie Fox.
“I am really happy with how my racing went today. I got some good times on the scoreboard which was nice,” Eckhardt said.
Watkins was equally pleased with his performances yet also a little relieved after securing the third and final U23 K1M berth.
“I am really happy to have made it,” Watkins said.
“It was pretty close, it came down to the last race in kayak. I had a pretty good first and second race and a pretty bad third race but luckily I came through in my first two races.
“That just snuck me into third boat but in C1 I was pretty happy with my performance in the first couple of races.”
The dual Australian Youth Olympic champion is competing in his first year of U23s this year following a stellar junior career.
Watkins has already noticed the step up in competition.
“There is a lot more pressure on the execution, you cannot really have a bad run and still make the team and you have got to be better on every run.”
His focus will now shift towards preparing for Worlds.
“There is a lot of purpose now for the next few months of my training, I will go back to Tassie and really start preparing for Worlds.”
1992 Olympian Peter Eckhardt coaches both athletes and was pleased with the performance of the pair in Penrith.
“Kate and Daniel have been very good. Kate particularly in her kayak was extraordinary I thought,” he said.
“Daniel is naturally very good and as he gets better with racing I am sure his results are going to be more consistent but he has been fantastic as well.”
The ICF canoe slalom junior and under-23 world championships will be held at Penrith Whitewater Stadium from 23-27 April.

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