Jake Donaghey and Alexander Haas in the C2 1000 national finals.
Jake Donaghey and Alexander Haas in the C2 1000 national finals. Sportscene

London bow for teen canoeists

CLINT Robinson had just turned 18 when he won gold for Australia in the K1 1000m at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Neither Alexander Haas nor Jake Donaghey were born when Robinson produced a performance that inspired a nation.

And they were both just wide-eyed 13-year-olds when Gold Coast lifesaver Ken Wallace wrote his name into the history books with gold in the K1 500m four years ago in Beijing.

But the pair, who had just taken up canoeing after answering an advertisement in the Brisbane Grammar newsletter, were inspired enough by Wallace's Olympic heroics to decide they wanted to follow in his footsteps.

"I hadn't heard much about the Australian canoeing and kayaking team at the time," Haas said. "I hadn't even heard of Clint Robinson. But after those Games, Jake and I thought 'we must be there in four years time'".

And be there they will.

The teenagers will compete in the C2 1000m event in London after a stellar performance at the Oceania Championships at Penrith earlier this year.

Brisbane Grammar coach Kevin Crisp said when he placed the ad, he was actually looking for paddlers who might make it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

Crisp said the boys had improved dramatically in the past few months and would carry great form into London.

"They did a huge PB at the Oceania Championships ... I didn't expect that," he said. "They've had some ups and downs along the way, but they've been incredibly self-driven. I'm extremely happy for them."

Preparing for London has been a juggling act for the boys who still have school commitments.

They have ramped up their training, getting up at 4am most mornings to fit in up to a dozen sessions a week.

Donaghey, who will also compete in the individual C1 1000m in London, said something had just "clicked" the first time Crisp had paired him with Haas.

"We had the same styles of paddling ... and we've worked our butts off."

While Donaghey said he was happy just to have a plane ticket for London, he believes medals will be a realistic option in Rio.



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