The first day of sporting action at the Kraków 2023 European Games saw Team GB athletes advance to finals in artistic swimming, canoe sprint and BMX freestyle park.
In BMX freestyle park, Declan Brooks, Sasha Pardoe, Holly Pipe and Kieran Reilly all secured their places in tomorrow’s finals after impressive displays in the qualifiers.
Reilly, who is making his Team GB debut out in Krakow, said: “For me, qualifying is always a bit more stressful – you can’t really mess up, whereas in finals, you mess up and you get a second chance! I’m stoked to get the most stressful stage out of the way, and now I’m going to get back to the Village, get some good food, get rested up, and go in tomorrow to try and get the gold.
“This is my first time representing Team GB, and to be at an event of this scale has been amazing. Being in the Athletes’ Village and having all the Team GB staff to help us out with anything we’ve needed, has been amazing. I’ve been having a good time while competing, which makes it much easier. Today went perfectly for me – I made that top six, which was my goal, and I stayed on my bike!”
Before beginning her competition, Charlotte Worthington took the decision to withdraw from the European Games in order to prioritise her journey towards Paris 2024.
The artistic swimming programme got underway in Oswiecim with Tokyo 2020 Olympians Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe producing an eye-catching performance to progress in fifth place from the Women’s Duet Free preliminaries. Securing a spot inside the top six gives the duo a preferred position in the swim order for Saturday’s final, but the pair’s attention will first turn towards the execution of their Duet Technical routine tomorrow evening.
Reacting to their opening swim, Shortman said: “It’s an amazing feeling to get going – it’s the first event for Team GB here at the Games and we’re just really excited to represent our country, be the first ones out there and smash it with the artistic swimming.”
Thorpe added: “We’ve been training really hard and I think with the new rules [set by World Aquatics] they really suit us, so we’ve come up with some new elements for our routine I think are really cool. We’ll try our best, see what happens and hopefully do well this week.”
And in canoe sprint, Deborah Kerr, Emily Lewis, Emma Russell and Rebii Simon had to place within the top three in the K4 500m heats to qualify straight through to tomorrow’s final without having to race again in the semis. After a fast start, they held onto their form to secure their place, finishing third in 1.35.578.
Kerr said: “Overall it was really good. It was a bit nerve wracking to start with but the boat felt really steady and that helps to really push on. It’s a rest afternoon for us now before we come back out for the final tomorrow.”
Simon added: “We had a really great race, we nailed what we had been working on, getting a really quick start and holding it together until the end and we’re happy to make it straight through to the final.”
Team GB will be led into tonight’s Opening Ceremony by rugby sevens co-captain Abbie Brown and Olympic canoe slalom champion Joe Clarke, who were confirmed as flagbearers this afternoon.
The sporting action continues tomorrow, with Team GB athletes competing across nine Olympic disciplines: archery, artistic swimming, boxing, canoe sprint, diving, shooting, sport climbing, table tennis and taekwondo.