Australian paddler Jaxon Merritt has blasted his way into the semi-finals of the men’s K1 at the Canoe Slalom World Championships in London.
The 25-year-old Victorian put in one of the best performances of his career to qualify equal fifth out of a field of 103 for Sunday’s semi-finals.
He will carry the hopes of Australia to finish top 15 and qualify a position at next year’s Olympics, after teammates Lucien Delfour and Daniel Watkins both failed to progress.
Merritt finished with a time of 82.37sec 1.09 seconds behind top qualifier, Michael Dawson of New Zealand.
“In some places I felt really nice, but others obviously not so good,” Merritt said.
“But it came together as a whole, which I’m happy with. It’s really nice to know there’s still time to pick up.
“I felt ok, not amazing, but this morning felt quite good and that’s all that really matters I suppose.” While Merritt went into the qualifiers as the 31st ranked paddler, Lucien Delfour went in as number three after two bronze medals in World Cup races this year.
But gate touches in both qualifying runs left him just out of the semi-finals field,. He finished 15th after the second run, with only the top ten progressing.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Delfour said.
“I felt sluggish on the water. I expected to make top ten here, I thought I was reasonable. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. Today just wasn’t my day.
“I was pretty happy with my first run, it was fast and I was happy with the way I paddled, but I got a touch which put me out of it.” Daniel Watkins also ran into trouble with gate touches on both his runs, finishing the second run in 24th place.
Australia will have one paddler in each of the Olympic qualifying events this weekend, with Robin Jeffery in the semi-finals of the men’s C1, Jess Fox in the semis of the women’s K1, and Merritt in the semis of the K1.
And on Sunday Fox will be joined by Ros Lawrence and Ali Borrows in the semi-finals of the non-Olympic C1, with Fox hoping for a third consecutive world title in the discipline.