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Dawson wins World Cup canoe slalom gold

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/06/2017
Mike Dawson. © Getty Images Mike Dawson.

A victorious Mike Dawson has created kayaking history, becoming the first New Zealander to win a World Cup canoe slalom medal.

The two-time Olympian grabbed gold in the men's extreme canoe slalom final at the opening World Cup regatta of the season in Prague, heading off a star trio of Czech paddlers on their home course.

The non-Olympic extreme event featured four boats negotiating the tricky Troja course, with slalom gates and a compulsory Eskimo roll to negotiate.

The 30-year-old Dawson edged his long-time rival Vavra Hradilek - the 2012 Olympic silver medalist - in the final, ahead of Vit Prindis and Ondrej Tunka.

"It was a pretty cool race in the final, with Vavra, Vit and Ondrej Tunka, and it was cool to take it to the Czechs and win New Zealand's first world cup medal," Dawson said.

"It was pretty flat-tack top-to-bottom and you've got to do two gates, so it's full-on, but once we came through the quarter finals into the semis, it was anyone's race."

Rising Rotorua paddler Zach Mutton finished seventh.

Earlier, Dawson placed 21st in his K1 slalom semi-final, failing to advance among the 10 quickest to the final.

Compatriot Luuka Jones narrowly missed a place in the women's K1 final, finishing 12th in her semifinal.

The Olympic silver medallist's time of 112.19 seconds included 4sec worth of penalties, having touched two gates, leaving her just 1.31sec outside the top-10 final, which was won by reigning Olympic champion Maialen Chourrau of Spain.

It was a similar story for Jones in her C1 (canoe) semifinal a day earlier, when she missed one gate entirely and added four touches to suffer nearly a minute's worth of penalties.

She placed 24th, although her raw time would have been good enough for the second-fastest semifinal time.

The next World Cup is in Augsburg, Germany, next week.

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