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Co-presenter Jesse Phillips in National Kayak Win
14 March 2010
phillips bird win
WAIS-AIS scholarship holder (and GAP co-presenter) Jesse Phillips and WAIS athlete Stephen Bird combined to win the K2 200m national title at the weekend's Canoeing Sprint Championships in Penrith.
The dynamic duo produced a powerful paddle in the final to marginally edge out the South Australian pairing of Chris Alagich and Mat Goble in a time of 33:87secs.
The result required a photo finish with the crowd at Sydney's International Regatta Centre left waiting with baited breathe before a big roar greeted the win for the WA pair.
It capped a successful campaign for WAIS' kayaking contingent, with Bird also scoring a fourth place finish in the individual K1 200m and Brendan Sarson earning fifth in the K1 1000m, with all three athletes expected to claim positions on Australia's World Cup team.
Up and coming paddler Daniel Bowker will likely earn a position on the Australian Under 23 team after producing a gutsy effort in the B final of the K1 1000m.
With the K1 and K2 events now part of the Olympic Games program, both Phillips and Bird gave their chances of featuring a real boost, claiming a maiden national title.
Phillips said he felt they had the race won crossing the line but admitted the confirmation of the result left him with a range of emotions.
"It's a bit of cliché really but I just felt relief and excitement and really I was just overjoyed to have won,” he said.
"It's a nice reward for all of the hours and sacrifice we have put in and I know we have more in us.”
When the race result was displayed on the scoreboard, Phillips and Bird were in boat control, on the other side of the structure, but the reaction left him with a moment to savour.
"We knew we'd got it as we could hear our friends and other crews cheering and then saw the reactions on their faces, it was just a special moment and one I won't forget,” Phillips said.
"It was great to share it with Kev (WAIS psychologist Kevin Hayter) and Pete (WAIS physiologist Peter Peeling) and our physio Brett Slocome and all the others who helped us get there.”
With results being transmitted live on social networking site twitter, word spread quickly.
"My mum found out pretty quickly via twitter and she phoned and left messages for Ramon (the pair's WAIS coach Ramon Andersson) and he was nearly in tears so that was pretty special.”
Ramon Andersson was proud of the squad's performance and was particularly pleased with Phillips and Bird's display.
"It was a fantastic effort from our boys with some really great results. Jesse and Steve were by no means favourites going in but they did the job and were the best team on the day,” he said.
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