Alyce Burnett and Hailey McGinty will clash with fellow Coast kayaker Rachel Lovell.
Alyce Burnett and Hailey McGinty will clash with fellow Coast kayaker Rachel Lovell. Contributed

Battle for berths begins

A HANDFUL of Sunshine Coast paddlers will press their claims the Australian Olympic team berths at the Oceania Championships in Sydney.

The three-day event, which gets under way today, is the first of two national selection events.

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The Sunshine Coast's Alyce Burnett and Hailey McGinty are in the same K4 500 crew and will clash with a crew that includes another Coast paddler, Rachel Lovell.

She and her teammates are in the box seat to earn a berth at the Games, after proving their wares at the world championships last year.

Burnett admitted yesterday: "We're kind of going into the race as underdogs.

"We're confident, but you never know what their world-class crew can pull out.

"It's a bit like Sunshine Coast versus Sunshine Coast, but we all get along and whatever happens, we're happy for each other."

Lovell, Burnett and McGinty will also compete in a variety of other events this weekend.

Sunshine Coast sports legend Clint Robinson will press his claims for a record-equalling sixth Olympic berth when he contests the coveted K1 1000.

If successful he will join Oarsome Foursome member James Tomkins, equestrian legend Andrew Hoy and sailor Colin Beashal as joint holders of the record.

But he will need to upset Manly Warringah's Murray Stewart, who is in career-best form, and kayaking icon Ken Wallace, who is back to full fitness and eager to race after an injury-interrupted 2011.

Asked about his chances of finishing ahead of Wallace and Murray, Clint replied: "At the end of the day, I will just put in my best performance. This week will only be the first of two Olympic selection events, so it's not make-or-break."

"Murray and Ken are great paddlers, but there are a couple of good paddlers. Jacob Clear is always consistent and (the Coast's) Bill Bain is one to watch, so it won't just be a battle amongst the big names.

"There should be six to eight athletes raring to go."



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