SUPPORTERS were treated to some superb displays from the Great Britain teams at the 2016 Canoe Polo World Championships in Syracuse, Sicily.
British fans included parents, grandparents and friends who had flown out to support the GB squad at the event, which was held on the sea in the narrow dock area between the city of Syracuse and the island of Ortygia in Sicily.
This gave excellent viewing from the grandstands erected on the dock side. Unusually, the canoeists were paddling in Mediterranean salt sea water.
Special thanks must go to the Italian security who, following the events in Nice, France, guarded competitors and their friends and relatives throughout.
Highlight for the GB supporters was the fantastic skill of the U21 GB men who did not lose a single game and won the gold medal to become 2016 world champions.
Their speed of paddling and accuracy in passing and shooting was a delight to watch.
GB beat the usually dominant Germans 5-4 in an exciting final – the first time the Germans have lost for some time – having previously defeated Italy 4-3 in the quarter-finals.
The GB U21 women, who had trained hard and improved considerably during 2016, won through to the semi-finals before eventually finishing fourth after losing 6-2 to New Zealand in the last four.
This was a good end to a hard season of training and competition for the GB U21 women. It was a satisfying competition for them and their coaches, which included canoeist and canoe designer Peter Howard from Compton Verney.
The senior GB women attained their target position of top six in the championships.
They narrowly missed out on the semi-finals as they were beaten in the quarter-finals, before losing 4-1 to Italy in the 5th/6th place play-off.
The team included Stratford siblings Danielle Brain, 19, and Nicole Brain, 23, who is swim manager at Stratford Leisure Centre. The senior women’s coach is Stratford’s 1992 C2 canoe slalom Olympian Paul Brain.
The senior GB men’s team had mixed results throughout the championships as they exceeded expectations.
They managed a good seventh position out of 24 teams after beating Denmark 7-3 in the 7th/8th place play-off.
The senior men’s team included Leamington-based Matt Blackmore and Martyn Pearson.
Also coaching at the championships was Paul’s 1992 Olympic C2 partner, Stratford’s Chris Arrowsmith, who was coaching the senior Canadian women’s team.
The Canadian women met GB in the group play-offs for fifth to eighth places and GB, who eventually finished sixth, won 8-4. The Canadian women ended the championships in eighth place.