Canoeing: Eilidh Gibson strikes gold at World Champs in Pau

Eilidh Gibson, centre, shows off her gold medal with her team-mates
Eilidh Gibson, centre, shows off her gold medal with her team-mates
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Edinburgh student Eilidh Gibson completed a golden hat-trick at the World Canoe Slalom Championships in Pau, south-west France yesterday, while her training partner David Florence added a silver medal to his three previous world titles.

Gibson and her Great Britain colleagues Mallory Franklin and Kim Woods had dominated the C1 team event at this summer’s European Championships and World Under-23 Championships, and they fully justified their status as gold-medal favourites.

A single clipped gate and a two-second time penalty would have scuppered their chances, but the British trio held their nerve to beat runners-up Australia by 1.65 seconds.

“We just had to be super-disciplined around the gates,” said Gibson, who goes again in today’s individual C1 heats. “We’d already won everything else, but we hadn’t won a senior World Championship title yet, so we had that at the back of our minds. We tried to be as focused as possible and we knew we were capable of winning it, although five or six other teams probably felt the same way. Mallory had a small mistake but the rest of the run was very clean. I was super-happy with the way I paddled. I was really smooth and controlled, and it gives me confidence for the rest of the week.”

Florence will attempt to retain his individual C1 title later this week, and yesterday’s team silver with Adam Burgess and Ryan Westley was a timely morale-booster. Defending champions Slovakia finished three seconds clear as Britain pipped France for second.

“It’s definitely nice to start so well, and it vindicates all the training we’ve done here over the summer,” said Florence. “We had a really good run and were pretty much spot-on the whole way. We had a strong team on paper, but not as strong as the Slovaks. They’ve won it about nine times in a row, so they’re tough to beat. We’re pleased to be on the podium.”

In yesterday’s other team finals, Roslin’s Bradley Forbes-Cryans helped Great Britain to 11th place in the K1 kayak class.