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Jones powers to eighth canoe slalom title

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/04/2017

Luuka Jones has romped to her eighth K1 title at the national canoe slalom championships on the Tarawera River in Kawerau over the weekend.

The Rio Olympics silver medallist clocked 84.61secs in the final, with Jane Nicholas six seconds back and another Tauranga paddler, 18-year-old Claudia Paterson, breaking through for her first open podium spot in 105.34.

Jones has added the C1 class to her arsenal this year and was cruising through that final too before the nose of her boat hit a gate late in her run and she incurred a 50sec time penalty.

"It was a bit unfortunate but I've been really happy with my C1 times over the weekend," Jones said.

"Things are progressing and I've actually improved a lot more than I thought I would."

Jones also paired with rising men's paddler Callum Gilbert to win the mixed C2 final, giving her a glimpse of how her season is going to look when she leaves for the World Cup series in Europe later this month.

"It's not just a physical thing, it's the mental challenge of turning up and having to think about the course from two different perspectives," she said.

"I'm really excited about racing two classes this year."

Gilbert, meanwhile, came out on top in the showdown between the three men representing New Zealand in Europe this year, edging Alexandra's Finn Butcher and Olympian Mike Dawson in the K1 final.

The 20-year-old was 1.65secs clear of Butcher, despite picking up a 2sec touch, with Dawson third in 78.59.

"New Zealand's got a few good K1 men now so it was always going to be a hard final but I was pretty happy to do my best run of the weekend there," Gilbert said.

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