Teenagers steal the show

Credit: Balint Verkassy

Teenagers steal the show

Teenagers Tom Dolle and Sage Donnelly stole the show at the ICF 2019 Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Sort, Spain, on Thursday, with Frenchman Dole winning gold at his first senior competition.

18-year-old Dole withstood a nerve-wracking final ride from reigning world champion, Dane Jackson, with the American coming up just short of the 960 posted by Dolle on his first run.

18-year-old Donnelly qualified first in the women’s kayak surface at her first senior world championships.
For Dole it was a nervous wait, with Jackson the last paddler on the water.

“I can’t believe it, really,” Dolle said.

“I knew I couldn’t do better, but I knew they could do better, so I just had to watch and hope for the best. I’m super-stoked that we all finished so close to each other, it was a really tight battle.

“I don’t really train much in the canoe, but the kayak helps a lot for canoe. It doesn’t really matter how much training you do in canoe when you do kayak at the same time.

“Senior is so much harder, there’s so much pressure.”

Jackson posted 950 to take the silver, while his American teammate, Jordan Poffenberger, followed his canoe surface gold from 24 hours earlier with bronze with a score of 943.33.

Sage Donnelly, who could lay claim to being the busiest elite kayaker on the planet, on Thursday qualified first in the women’s kayak surface preliminaries two years after winning the junior world title.

Two weeks ago Donnelly was competing in the canoe slalom and extreme slalom at the ICF world cup, but showed she can easily make the transition by posting a combined freestyle total of 1146.67.

“It’s really hard to get the training balance right, because I do freestyle and slalom, creek racing as well, and stand-up paddle boarding,” Donnelly said.

“I try to do it all, but my main focus is slalom because I am going for the 2020 Olympics. I’ve been doing freestyle since I was seven, it’s what I started in, so I just put together a series of tricks that I am familiar with.

“I knew I had it in me, but I wasn’t fully expecting to get it here. I’m just happy to have pulled it out, so I just hope I can continue. It’s definitely a good start to the competition.”

It’s Donnelly’s first senior world championships. The 18-year-old is the reigning junior world champion from Argentina in 2017.