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The Rock-itt : January 2014
by both crews.” With Stewart and David Smith in the K4 were Tate Smith and Jacob Clear. There were two changes in the Oarsome Four from London, with Lockwood and Josh Dunkley-Smith being joined by Spencer Turin and Alex Lloyd, who replaced James Chapman and three-time Olympic champ Stewart Ginn. The Battle of the Fours was sponsored by clothing supplier 776BC and the race started by six-time Olympic rower James Tonkin. It always shaped as contest between the kayakers’ early acceleration and the rowers’ back-end speed, between the kayakers’ high stroke rate and the power generated by the leverage of the rowers’ long oars (kayakers are not allowed to have any leverage point on the boat for their paddles). And that’s how it panned out. The kayakers exploded from the blocks and burst out to an early lead. Although the rowers came home strongly, the kayakers held on confidently in front of a cheering crowd lining the river bank to win by half a boat length. “It was really important for us to win because we issued the challenge. It would have been a bit embarrassing if we put it out there and then lost the race,” said Stewart. Tate Smith, who was in the number one seat for the kayakers, said: "There was a bit of pressure in that race and I was a bit nervous but we just enjoyed it. It was pretty close in the end. Any longer and they would have started to come over the top of us but it worked in our favour today. Now we can say we're the fastest boat in Australia.” And he added a little needle with a final shot across the rowers’ bows: "Maybe they'll need to get the eight out there and see if they can beat us." David Smith said after the race he was not sure how 500m was chosen for the race distance, and that the kayakers would have agreed to 750m but the rowers opted for 500m. The rowers responded by saying: “We didn’t have a choice. We were told it was over 500m.” They want a rematch, perhaps over a longer distance, so the title of Awesome Foursome may be up for grabs again next year. If you’d like to watch the race, try the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=LCPAcr5NPrs&feature=youtu.be http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=haK8kFHr7pY http://www.rowingrelated.com/2013/11/ video-of-week-rowing-versus- kayaking.html Discrimination against women in sport is an issue that has been around for a long time. And there are few places where this seems to be more firmly cemented than in the Olympics. Canoeists in a number of countries are campaigning against the imbalance of women, compared to the number of men, allowed to compete in the Olympics in their sport, and Australia is one of the countries leading the charge. In canoeing and kayaking sprint there are 8 men’s events and 4 women’s events. In canoeing and kayaking slalom, up to 4 men can compete in 3 events, but only 1 woman can compete. Our best female canoeist, Jessica Fox, cannot compete in her favourite event, the C1 slalom, in the Olympics because the program does not include a single woman’s canoe race. If she were male she’d be all right, because the event is in the men’s program. But there is a woman’s K1 slalom. To be able to compete in the London Olympics Fox was forced to change from canoeing (C1) to kayaking (K1), and she did this so successfully she won a silver medal. Currently she is the world champion in both canoeing and kayaking slalom. These are quite different albeit allied sports. In kayaking, paddlers sit on their bottom, with their legs out in front of them, and wield a paddle with a blade at each end. In canoeing, paddlers squat in the boat with their feet tucked underneath them and their spade-shaped paddle has a blade at only one end. Paddlers generally stick to one discipline or the other, and it is testament to Fox’s incredible talent that she has gone from being the best slalom canoeist to the best in the world at both. The International Canoe Federation recently announced it would push to have women’s C1 slalom and C1 200m sprint included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and “guarantee complete gender equality across both canoe sprint and canoe slalom by the 2024 Olympic Games”. Fox was unimpressed when the ICF said she should be pleased with this and showed a picture of her with arms outstretched following a recent victory. She called it a slap in the face and misleading. “While this news is fantastic for the future of the sport, the current reality is that women are still excluded for seven more years,” she added. She has been campaigning for more women’s events in Rio in 2016. But if something is added to the program, something else has to go. “It comes down to the ICF to reshuffle quotas or to ask for a swap of a men’s event,” she said. “Nobody wants to take out an event but that's the reality of the situation. It's tough because all the men's events deserve to be there. "This should be a major concern to the ICF. At this stage they are still discriminating against women." Currently women sprint canoeists compete in about 36 countries and women slalom canoeists in about 33 countries. Jessica Fox shows her amazing skills in the K1 slalom (left, sitting with her feet out in front of her and using a double-blad e paddle) and the C1 slalom (right, squatting with her feet under her and using a paddle with a single blade) Discrimination against women is alive and well