Aust canoe sprint team named for Tokyo

Murray Stewart will compete at a third Olympics after his selection in the Tokyo 2021 kayak squad.
Murray Stewart will compete at a third Olympics after his selection in the Tokyo 2021 kayak squad.

Australia's canoe sprint paddlers have been given certainty about the Tokyo Games after being confirmed in the Olympic team on Friday.

The 14 athletes are the first to be named since confirmation of the Olympics' postponement until 2021.

Despite it likely being more than 12 months before the Games is held, with the new date still to determined, the AOC confirmed the paddlers had met selection criteria and would hold their place.

Seven athletes will make their Olympic debut, a further six have been selected for their second Games, while London 2012 gold medallist Murray Stewart is heading to his third Olympics.

Jo Brigden-Jones, Alyssa Bull, Catherine McCarthur, Shannon Reynolds, Jaime Roberts and Alyce Wood (nee Burnett) will contest the women's kayak events (K4 500m, K2 500m, K1 500m, K1 200m), Riley Fitzsimmons, Thomas Green, Stewart, Lachlan Tame, Jean van der Westhuyzen and Jordan Wood will take on the men's kayak (K4 500m, K2 1000m, K1 1000m, K1 200m) while Josephine Bulmer and Bernadette Wallace will represent Australia in women's canoe (C2 500m), with women's sprint canoeing on the Olympic programme for the first time.

AOC Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said the paddlers needed certainty so they could plan their training for next year's event.

"Athletes, like communities right across the world right now, are facing uncertainty about what the coming months hold," Chesterman said.

"But I'm delighted that these athletes have some certainty knowing the Games will be held in 2021 and that they are now part of the Australian Olympic Team.

"These athletes have worked so hard for years for this opportunity and the fourteen paddlers announced today will continue the fantastic Olympic legacy our country has in canoe sprint in Tokyo next year."

The selected team size for Tokyo now sits at 56 athletes.

Australian Associated Press