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WA Paddlers Impress at GP1
7 December 2015

Two of our Developing Champions' Athlete Facilitators are taking part this week at the GP1 kayaking event in Adelaide. Both Jesse Phillips and Jaime Roberts put in strong performances and came away with medals at this first of three events which will determine which athletes fill those coveted Olympic berths.

This article first appeared on the WAIS website (
 Jesse Phillips (front) and Stephen Bird compete in the K2 200m. Photo: Sportscene
Western Australia's 200m paddlers enjoyed a successful campaign at GP1 in Adelaide with Stephen Bird claiming the K1 event, before teaming with Jesse Phillips to win the K2 title at West Lakes.

With the selection campaign for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games about to begin in earnest, Bird has ensured his early season preparation has been rewarded as the 27 year-old surprised even himself, with his form over the first competition.


"I thought it went pretty well for 175 metres,” Bird said of his K1 victory by .15 of a second over South Australian Callum Dunn. Fellow WAIS athlete Jesse Phillips was third.

"I was quite surprised as my water work up to date has been very minimal so I was pretty surprised with that actually and I cannot he happier.”


Following Saturday’s final, Bird admitted he’d suspected a tight race would unfold.


"I knew it would be close, but after you have been racing for so long you kind of know how to get your nose in front.”

"Callum is paddling so well so it was nice to mix it up with him.”


The K2 final followed on Sunday, with Bird and Phillips combining to take victory over recent U23 representative paddlers Dunn and Ben McLean.


The 2012 Olympic finalists won by .54 of a second in their final major hit-out before February’s Oceania Championships, where Australia’s best paddlers will attempt to qualify further Olympic boats for Rio, after the team had missed out in some events at this year’s World Championships in Italy.


Phillips suggested it had been beneficial to get a feel for the course ahead of their next event.


"It felt good to be out on the Oceania course before February comes to go through the motions, stay where we are going to stay and feel the water as it is quite a bit different here at West Lakes", he remarked.


The pair know they’ll have a battle on their hands to hold off a hungry crew emerging into the senior ranks, which Bird figured would fuel all athletes in the lead up to the Oceania titles.


"It is fantastic,” he said. "They are (Dunn/McLean) paddling so well and when I think about it we (he and Phillips) were in that position not long ago,” he said.

"Those young guys are really starting to know what it feels like to go fast.”


In the women’s K2 500m event, WAIS athletes Alana Nicholls and Jaime Roberts combined to finish third, with victory going to NSW pair, Jo Brigden-Jones and Naomi Flood.


Nicholls had been impinged by a bulging disk complaint in her neck, which aggravated in competition and saw her withdraw from subsequent events as a precautionary.


Jaime Roberts earned a highly credible bronze medal in the final of the women’s K1 200m event, finishing behind NSW’s Jo Brigden-Jones and Queenslander Alyce Burnett.


Roberts was fifth in the K1 500m final, won by Burnett, whilst Shannon Reynolds won the B Final, with the ninth fastest time of the open field. Reynolds also qualified for the K1 200m final, finishing seventh.

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