QueenslanderÕs Joshua Brown, Stacey Higgins, Remi Francis and Jacqueline Beaver enjoyed the Olympic experience as members of the Australian Canoe Sprint Team that participated at the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival held in Sydney from 14 to 18 January.
Canoe sprint was held on 15 and 16 January whilst canoe slalom was held on 16 and 17 January 2008. After competition the Australian Team visited other venues and sports.
John Newton said that all members of the team gained from the experience at the Sydney International Regatta Centre at Penrith Lakes. John added that most of the competitors are aware of individual areas of improvement.
2008 Bejing Olympic gold and bronze medallist, Ken Wallace was the canoe sprint ambassador mixing well with all nations represented at the festival.
Dry, hot westerly winds did not assist the competitors on the first day of competition. Temperatures soured to 42 degrees at Penrith. It is a credit to the competitors and tem management in the manner they handled these harsh conditions. Event organisers had to extended the program to give the athletes greater time to recuperate between events. Strong southerly winds changed water conditions late in the day as storms went through other parts of Sydney.
Joshua Brown teamed with Wayne Dunbar came second in the first heat of the K2 1000m ensuring a place in the final. Although they improved by more than 5 seconds on their heat time they eventually finished sixth in a time of 3 minutes and 34.96 seconds, nearly 11 seconds behind the wining pair of Fletcher and Petho from Australia.
Remi Francis and Stacey Higgins paired together for the Women K2 1000m, which was a straight final. Remi and Stacey knew they were in for a competitive race finishing sixth behind strong teams from China, Hungary, Japan, New Zealand and the other Australian crew. Remi and StaceyÕs time was 4:37.71.
Stacey teamed with Kate Ferguson, Amy Peters and Danielle Polson to collect a silver medal in the Women K4 1000m. The Australian team finished 3 seconds behind the strong Hungarian crew and just pipped China by 0.69 seconds for the silver medal.
Conditions were much cooler on day two of competition for the 500 metre events. Remi Francis and Jacqueline Beaver both had to try and qualify for the Women K1 500 final through the semi final. Jacqueline improved nearly 6 seconds on her heat time to fill the last position in the final. Remi missed the final but did post a personal best time. Jacqueline was unable to improve her semi final time in the final and finished ninth.
Jacqueline was not to be disappointed as she teamed with Fiona Kidd, Danielle Polson and Madison Prior to collect the silver medal in the Women K4 500 final. Once again the Hungarian crew were too strong taking the gold medal. Australia snuck into second place over New Zealand by 0.40 seconds.
Jacqueline assisted the officials on day one as she was not competing that day.
Other results from day two had Joshua Brown and Brendan Rice finish 7th in the K2 500 final and Remi Francis and Stacey Higgins finish 8th in the Women K2 500 final.
Others from Queensland who played a role in the success of the team were John Newton and Kevin Crisp in coaching roles. John also played a major role in coordinating resources for the team and international guests. Jerry Dunn also attended as one of the technical officials.