Penrith will be the home to the world’s best Olympic canoe slalom paddlers next weekend as they compete for glory at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival.
To be held at Penrith Whitewater Stadium, the event will be the largest international whitewater event in the Asia Pacific since the Olympic Games in 2000. It will also mark the 20-year anniversary of the course following its opening back in 1999.
The stadium will come to life over two weekends this month – 15-17 and 22-24 February – with the best Olympic slalom athletes and a stellar line-up of world champions competing in an action-packed Whitewater Festival, showcasing the exciting and thrilling disciplines of canoe slalom, wildwater and freestyle canoeing.
Over 350 of the world’s greatest paddlers from over 30 countries, including all three Rio individual class Olympic champions, will compete against Australia’s best.
Leonay resident and two-time Olympic medallist Jessica Fox will spearhead Australia’s highly successful team.
“I can’t wait to kick-off the season on home waters and it’s awesome to have so many of the world’s best paddlers come and join us for this exciting event,” Fox said.
“We don’t have many competitions at home and it’s amazing to have the world come to Sydney to paddle down under.
“It really will be a World Championship level event and it will be a great benchmark for us Aussies heading into the Olympic qualifying season. It’s national team selection time for us and it’s really exciting to get to take on the rest of the world at the same time.”
All three Rio 2016 women’s K1 Olympic podium finishers will be at the start line, giving Fox the opportunity for a re-match against Olympic champion Maialen Chourraut from Spain and New Zealand’s Olympic silver medallist Luuka Jones.
The event is also an Australian national team selection event to decide the national team canoe slalom athletes that will contest the 2019 Olympic qualifying season.
Racing at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival begins next Friday, February 15.
See www.whitewater.paddle.org.au for info. Entry is free.
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.