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Phillips and Bird Cement Olympic Nomination
19 March 2012
WAIS-AIS kayaking athletes Jesse Phillips and Stephen Bird have claimed the K2 200m national title at the Sydney International Regatta Centre over the weekend, earning themselves Olympic nomination.
The duo is in line to join training partner and fellow WAIS-AIS scholarship holder Alana Nicholls, who added the women’s K1 500m Olympic nomination to go with the K1 200m spot she wrapped up at the earlier Oceania Championships.
Phillips and Bird secured the Australian title for the third year in-a-row following a re-race after the starter declared the first run a 'No Race' following a faulty start. Cruising over the line in 0:33.04secs, the pair finished 0.71 seconds ahead of South Australia's Matthew Goble and Luke Morrison. Phillips even had the luxury of easing up as they crossed the line to let out an almighty victory roar.
"We're really stoked with the performances we've put on display in 2012 so far, and we hope to take that to the next level at world cups and then the Olympic Games where we're certainly going to be hunting for that podium,” Phillips said. "I had a good vantage point knowing we were comfortably in the lead, so that explains stopping before the line and I think the scream was just a guttural release of pressure and relief,” said the Bayswater Paddlesports Club representative.
After winning their third national title, Phillips and Bird were left requiring the already qualified Murray Stewart to win the men’s K1 200m event, to add to his wins in the K1 500 and men’s K4 1000m. Stewart’s success in the K1 200m event, ensured there was still positions left on the seven man Australian team, for the Western Australian pair to fill.
23-year-old commerce student Stephen Bird, who went to high school in South Africa, says the pair will now focus on pushing the sub-32 second mark in their bid to compete at London 2012. "Our goal is to start encroaching on the 32 second mark as fast as we can. So as much as winning was a great thing today we were also very chuffed about the times we did, because they'll have to be repeated over and over again whether it's at Penrith, Duisburg or wherever,” he said. "We're very thrilled, (this gold medal) is a reflection of our preparation and our fantastic backup team and coaches, and our extended families that support us all over the world,” Bird said. "It's easy to feel alone out there and in your head, so to know we've got all these people behind us helping is really encouraging.”
-Canoeing Australia
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