Another Byron paddler to compete at world titles

By Steve Spinks

Byron Bay paddler Craig Rodgers received a nice surprise last week.

Former schoolmate and fellow kayaker David Rhodes phoned the Gold Coast real estate salesman to ask if he wanted to partner him for the K2 500m and K2 1000m races in the world championships in Croatia in August.

You can imagine Rodgers' reaction!

"It was a bit of a surprise," he said.

"I was starting to think what K4 team would be picked.

"So it's a very pleasing surprise."

Rodgers' chance came because fellow Byron Bay paddler and dual K1 500m world champion Nathan Baggaley decided to concentrate on the individual events.

Because of the format of the finals it meant he could not back up with Rhodes in the pairs races.

"With the restructure of racing it was impossible," Rhodes said.

"Nathan's decided to concentrate on the K1 this season and I have no problem with that.

"Unfortunately it left me without a partner. But I've teamed up with Craig and so far so good."

It's remarkable that a town as small as Byron Bay could produce three top quality paddlers.

"I don't know what it is down there," chuckled Rodgers.

"It must be something in the air."

Rhodes' Olympic K2 partner Daniel Collins,retired after Athens, but he has joined the duo as their coach.

"It's great to have him on board," Rhodes said.

The trio will fly out on May 8 to race in two world cup events in Poland and Germany before coming back to Australia to prepare for the world titles.

Rhodes believes the new pair will be competitive.

Only time will tell.

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