Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has confirmed their canoe sprint squad for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, marking their first team announcement since the Games was postponed to 2021.
The AOC said seven athletes will make their debut at the Games, with a further six selected for their second Olympics.
London 2012 gold medallist Murray Stewart will compete at a third Olympics.
Stewart will be joined by Riley Fitzsimmons, Thomas Green, Murray Stewart, Lachlan Tame, Jean van der Westhuyzen and Jordan Wood in men’s kayaking events at the Games.
Jo Brigden-Jones, Alyssa Bull, Catherine McArthur, Shannon Reynolds, Jaime Roberts and Alyce Wood will compete in women’s kayak events, while Josephine Bulmer and Bernadette Wallace will participate in women’s C2 500m and C1 200m canoeing events.
Women’s sprint canoeing will feature on the Olympic programme for the first time.
The athletes were nominated following performances at the Paddle Australia selection trials in February and March.
The AOC said the athletes will remain members of the Olympic team, despite the postponement of the Games.
“Athletes, like communities right across the world right now, are facing uncertainty about what the coming months hold,” said Ian Chesterman, Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission.
“But I’m delighted that these athletes have some certainty knowing the Games will be held in 2021 and that they are now part of the Australian Olympic team.
“These athletes have worked so hard for years for this opportunity and the fourteen paddlers announced today will continue the fantastic Olympic legacy our country has in canoe sprint in Tokyo next year.
“The calibre of these athletes both on and off the water is something Australians can be proud of.
“With a team including paramedic Jo Brigden-Jones and firefighter Aly Bull, clearly their impact goes beyond sport to keeping our communities safe, a role that is vital right now.
“Today’s selection is a fantastic achievement and we’re proud to have you on the team for 2021.
“Those back for a second and a third Games are taking a special place in Australian Olympic history.
“Maintaining excellence over such a long period is exceptional.
“I thank Paddle Australia, all the coaches and support staff and the family and friends who stand alongside these athletes to allow them to do what they do. “
The AOC had declared earlier this week that they would be unable to send a team to the Olympic Games if they remained on course to open on July 24.
The organisation told athletes to prepare for an Olympic Games in the northern hemisphere summer in 2021.
Their statement appears to be well founded, following the postponement of the Games on Tuesday (March 24) and claims from organisers that they are investigating dates in July and August next year.
Brigden-Jones claimed the decision to postpone the Olympics had been the correct one and welcomed confirmation of her place on the team for next year’s Games.
“It’s been such a rollercoaster of emotions, from qualifying at the trials, to not knowing if the Games would be cancelled, the official postponement and now being officially selected,” Brigden-Jones said.
“It’s such a high to qualify and I’m so proud of fulfilling a goal I’ve had for so long, but what’s happening around the world is so scary.
“Postponing the Games was the best thing to do for the health of the world.
“As a paramedic I have a frontline perspective of the current situation – while my Olympic dream is on hold for now, the delay means I can throw myself into my paramedic work for the next few months to do everything I can.
“It’s a different motivation to what drives me when I’m on the water, but if we can do our best to follow health advice and come together as a community we can get through this and the entire community can be back chasing our other goals as soon as we can.”