CULBURRA Beach sprint kayaker Kirsty Higgison put in an outstanding performance while representing Australia at the Olympic Hopes International Regatta in Piestany Slovakia at the weekend, paddling herself into finals of the 17 year women’s K1 1000m event.
In a great finishing burst she claimed fourth place against the world’s best juniors.
Kirsty backed this performance up by making the finals of the individual 17 years K1 500m event, placing a creditable sixth overall.
This result now places Kirsty in the top four for 17 years female paddlers over the K1 1000 distance and sixth for the K1 500m.
The St John’s Nowra year 11 student has had a sensational European tour reco-rding multiple personal best times and is now ranking among the world’s best 17 years K1 1000 paddlers. Her performances at the international regatta saw her place as first Australian female overall in the international pointscore ranking.
NSWIS sprint kayak coach Terry Prosser commented on Kirsty’s excellent international individual performances against the world’s best juniors and what a special achievement it was, “ she should be extremely satisfied and proud of her performances, they are top class” he said.
On the Saturday of the Olympic Hopes Inter-national Regatta Kirsty started proceedings competing in the heats of the women’s 17 years K1 1000 where she finished a close second behind eventual event winner Bodonyi Dóra, of Hungary with South African Van Niekerk Melanie a further 2.5seconds behind in third.
Kirsty’s blistering heat time automatically qualified for the final later the same day.
Just 45 minutes after her K1 1000 heat, Kirsty teamed up with Allison Bryant from Sydney for the K2 1000 team boat.
The Australian pairing had a great paddle and qualified fourth fastest for the K2 final.
The final of the individual K1 1000 saw Kirsty not get the ideal start she wanted and was multiple boat lengths behind in last place ninth by the 200m mark.
Kirsty dug deep and paddled her way through the top line field finishing the strongest to place just outside the medals in fourth place.
Unfortunately she gave away just too much at the start and could not reel in the leaders by the finish line.
A reproduction of her earlier heat time would have seen Kirsty gain a medal in the final.
The heavy schedule continued just 50 minutes later when Kirsty backed up for the final of the K2 1000.
The young Australian crew did well in the final finishing seventh overall against the more experienced German, Hungarian and Polish crews.
On the day, Kirsty put in four top class 1000m races compared to the top European paddlers who focus on the one event only.
A great effort that will only enhance Kirsty’s international racing experience.
Sunday saw the 500m events run in still but overcast and cold conditions.
Kirsty started the day with the K1 500 heats were she placed fourth and qualified for the semis.
Next heat for the young Aussie saw her team up with Allison Bryant in the K2 500 team boat.
The newly formed crew had a solid heat placing sixth, however they missed qualifying for the semis by one placing.
In the individual K1 500 semi Kirsty got away well but was in seventh position 100m into the race some two boat lengths behind the leading South African and Slovakian girls.
Kirsty put on her customary finishing burst to paddle over the top of the leaders in the last few metres to win the semi and book a place in the final.
The final was a real battle out front between Hung-arian Réka Hagymási and Polish paddler Bruska Joanna.
Kirsty had a solid start and fought on well but the Hungarians and Polish girls dominated proceeding with Kirsty finishing a creditable sixth overall.
This tour has proven to be the most successful to date for any Australian junior team that have competed at the Olympic Hopes Inter-national Regatta.
Australia finished fifth overall in the Nations Cup, ahead of powerhouse cou-ntries such as France and Great Britain.
The Australian team has travelled to Vienna, Austria for a quick stopover before arriving home today.