Olympics on the line
By STEVE SPINKS firstname.lastname@example.org OLYMPIC spots will be on the line when the Oceania Olympic Qualification Canoeing Regatta starts at Penrith today.
And there will be a host of local athletes competing in the flatwater and slalom events.
Athens Olympian David Rhodes, of Byron Bay, is one of the Northern Rivers' best chances of an Olympic spot.
Rhodes - who competed in Athens in the K2 1000m with partner Daniel Collins - will contest the K1 500m, the K1 1000m, the K2 1000m with Luke Morrison and the K4 1000m with Ken Wallace, Jacob Clear and Tate Smith.
Much has been written about Clint Robinson and Wallace who will go into the blue ribbon K1 1000m race as favourites. Champion
However, Rhodes is the defending national champion over the distance as well as the K1 500m.
Joining the Byron paddler in the men's events is Bonalbo slalom kayaker Sam Norton.
Norton, who now competes for the Tasmania Canoe Club, will paddle in his pet event - the K1 slalom - but he will also contest some flatwater races.
He will line up in the K1 500m, K1 1000m and the K2 1000m with partner Dane Wilkinson of Currumbin Creek.
Byron Bay's Katrina Wilkinson will contest the K1 500m and the non-Olympic event, the K1 200m.
Sisters Kate, Jacquie and Rosalyn Lawrence, of Bonalbo, will wage war with the white water in the women's K1 slalom.
Kate qualified Australia a position at the Olympics at last year's world championships in Brazil and is rated as one of the event favourites.
However, she will have to be in good form or run the risk of being knocked over by one of her sisters.
The Oceania Championships doubles as the national championship and is the first qualifying regatta for the Australian team for the Olympics.
A second qualifying regatta will be held later this month with the team to be selected by April.