There will be much at stake when Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre hosts the penultimate GB selection opportunity for the team aiming for Rio this summer, on the 18th and 19th of April.

It was six months ago when Olympic Champion Ed McKeever came home from the Sprint World Championships in Milan bitterly disappointed at not making the men’s K1 200 A final, and with it his opportunity to cross the first Olympic selection hurdle.

So dissatisfied was he that he decided to skip the autumn’s Rio Test event in favour of beginning training earlier for the 2016 season.

What McKeever needs to do now is qualify the K1 200m boat at next week’s regatta.  Then he must deliver again in May’s European Continental Qualification final selection opportunity in Duisburg, staged exclusively for European boats that haven’t already qualified.

 “I would rather have qualified last year at the Worlds but I mucked up there in not doing so,” admitted McKeever.

 “If you want to do well at the Olympic Games then a top two at the European round of qualifiers should be easily within your grasp.”

It turned out to be a good winter for McKeever and a better start to the season.  Last weekend at the season opening National Sprint Regatta in Nottingham - into a light wind - he won the men’s K1 200 in 36.5 seconds, over a second up on his nearest rival.

“I’ve stayed healthy and got all the training done which is a major thing going forwards,” he said.

“Now I’ve got to put on top of that the next block of speed work and I should be ready to go come Duisburg.

 “It’s still six weeks until Duisburg, but it’s a good indicator of how the training has gone.  Now basically I have to win two races.”

Britain’s men’s K2 200m boat of Liam Heath and Jon Schofield, whose fifth place in the Milan Worlds booked the Great Britain boat for the Rio Games, are determined to secure their place when they begin their season in Nottingham next week.

 “We are termed ‘seat holders’ so if we win our race next Tuesday in K2 we go through for nomination to the BOA,” said Heath who won bronze with Schofield at the 2012 London Games.

Now, having put down some fast time trials in training on Dorney Lakes in the individual boat, Heath also plans to compete in the K1 200m alongside McKeever at next week’s selections.

 “I always wanted to put out some good performances in the K1 and I really want to keep the field competitive for Ed who has got to go through the second round qualification to get the K1 spot at the Games,” continued Heath, who is not long back from a British Canoeing training camp in Brazil and is beginning to see the country as a ‘home from home’.”

 “Now I’m really looking forward to getting the season started. You want to see where you are standing what the rest of the world has been up to, see how effective your training programme has been and make adjustments.”

Having been part of the team that secured the K4 500m Olympic quota spot after finishing fifth in the Milan Worlds last year, London Olympian Rachel Cawthorn did not have the best of starts to the year after suffering viral fatigue which she believes is the result of overtraining.

She went back to basics, starting with light walks in January.  Following British Canoeing camps in Brazil and Spain this spring she is fighting fit and ready to attempt to qualify a place in the K1 500m as well as help to put down a fast time in the K4.

“It wasn’t the ideal winter, but I feel like I’m in a good place now and I’ve gained quite a few skills having had the opportunity to go back and work on different aspects,” said Cawthorn.

“In Milan I qualified the K1 spot but, as no one is allowed to qualify more than one place, I had to hand it back.

 “So if I win the trials in Nottingham then I have the spot.  But if someone else wins we both go and race off at the World Cup in Racice.

“I just have to make sure I race fast at Nottingham next week.”

Following the trials, athletes will be selected to go to the European Continental Qualification event in Duisburg, Germany in May, which is the final opportunity to qualify British boats for Rio 2016. Athletes will also be selected for the ICF World Cup series events in May.


Based on performances at these competitions, British Canoeing will nominate its team to the British Olympic Association and it is anticipated that the Canoe Sprint team for Rio will be announced on 14 June.

Canoe Sprint