Officially selected Australian Olympic athletes Daniel Bowker, Stephen Bird and Ferenc Szekszardi have had their first overseas hit out for 2016 as the build up to Rio intensifies.
World Cup 1 in Duisburg, Germany played host to the first regatta of the international season, with Olympic preparations a common theme across many of the competing fields.
Olympic debutant Daniel Bowker showed impressive form in the men’s K1 1000m event, narrowly missing the A-Final before posting a very respectable 3:29.54 in the B-Final.
Bowker – who relocated from Perth to the Gold Coast to train with the national high performance 1000m squad in a bid to boost his selection prospects – has enjoyed a purple patch both on and off the water in recent times. The former Sorrento SLSC member announced his engagement with fellow Olympic athlete Emma Moffatt, who herself recently earned selection for the 2016 Australian Olympic Team in the triathlon section.
Bowker finished third in his semi-final in Duisburg and was just .2 of a second off second place which would have earned him a spot in the A-Final. In the B-Final, Bowker again took third place, wiping over six seconds off his time.
Stephen Bird – who is preparing for a second Olympic campaign for Australia – crossed third in his heat of the men’s K1 200m, qualifying for the C-Final –which he won in a time of 34.838.
Bird is the sole competitor for Australia in the men’s 200m distance in Rio, after Australia missed sending a K2 boat.
Ferenc Szekszardi will compete in the men’s C2 1000m in Rio, but with his partner Martin Marinov not available for action in Duisburg, Szekszardi entered the men’s C1 500m event.
At 36, Hungarian born Szekszardi represents one of the more curious tales on the 2016 Australian Olympic team. His partner Marinov – an Olympian for both his native Bulgaria and adopted Australia, is 12 years his senior at 48 years of age. The pair qualified for Rio, off limited preparation, whilst Marinov is also the head coach of the Chinese canoeing team.
In Duisburg, Szekszardi qualified for the B-Final in the C1 500m, eventually finishing ninth, in a time of 1:58.91.