Crowds line the Severn as National Canoeing Championships return to Worcester

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Crowds lined the River Severn as the National Canoe Championships returned to the city.

The Worcester Canoe Club hosted the 2022 British National Open Marathon Racing Individual and Team Championships over the weekend, with over 800 athletes taking to the water.

Fans, friends, family and the many passersby who couldn’t help but be drawn to the canoeists aged 10 to 87 took part in a variety of individual and team races.

For many competitors, the event provided a final chance to make the case for selection for next month’s World Championships in Portugal.

Among them was Beth Gill from Chelmsford, who won two silver medals at the European Marathon Championships in Denmark in July.

“It’s my first time to Worcester and I really enjoy it,” she said.

“We’ve spent a lot of the last few months traveling everywhere, we’ve just returned from Munich so it’s nice to end up here in Worcester.

“The European Championships have definitely been the highlight of my career so far.”

The crowd cheered on the athletes as they carried their boats during the portage section of the race

On Saturday August 27, Beth finished first in the K1 senior ladies.

Sunday presented a new challenge for the Team GB athlete, as she teamed up with boyfriend Dan Johnson in the mixed K2.

Speaking ahead of the race, she said: “We’ve never really raced together before so it will be interesting!

“It will just be a really great way to end what has been a fantastic weekend.”

In the past, Worcester had held the event every year, but this weekend marked the first time the city had hosted it since the coronavirus pandemic.

Worcester News: Organizer Andy Nevitt, of the Worcester Canoe ClubOrganizer Andy Nevitt, Worcester Canoe Club

Organizer Andy Nevitt, of Worcester Canoe Club, was delighted to see the event return, but admitted the closures had impacted the sport.

He said: “It was a fabulous weekend.

“It’s been about seven years since Worcester last hosted the National Championships, so it’s great to have them back.

“Unfortunately, nationally paddling probably lost a few people as many were unable to paddle and therefore could have taken up another sport.

“I think we are now coming to the end of the effects of Covid.

“It hasn’t really had too much of an impact on our club, but I know one or two elsewhere in the country who are really struggling.”

Worcester News: Huge crowds turned out for the event, a big fixture in the canoeing calendarHuge crowds turned out for the event, a milestone in the canoeing calendar

The British Canoeing Marathon Racing Committee team, including Junior Development Marathon Manager Holly Mobbs, also helped organize the event.

“It’s a very spectator friendly sport, as you can see there are a lot of people stopping to watch when they see what’s going on.

“There are over 40 clubs taking part, from Glasgow to Cardiff, and we even have a few guys from Australia here.

“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers and the support of the clubs.

“A lot of clubs that host don’t do it for profit, but because they love the sport.”

Check the Worcester News website Monday August 29 for more photos and the full results.

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