Bendigo paddlers triumph at Australian Wildwater Championships 

Maddie Batters won her first national titles while Kristy Packham defended her crowns at the Australian Wildwater Championships last week.

Batters had a superb run at the treacherous Shark’s Tooth rapid on the Mitta Mitta River to claim the national under-18 classic title.

The 17-year-old needed to finish within 35 per cent of the fastest male paddler to make the national junior team but smashed the mark with a time inside 14 per cent of the first man, Robert McIntyre.

Packham, defending her national titles in the classic and rapid sprint, struggled with a new boat but managed to finish inside the 22 per cent qualification mark for the senior women’s team.

“We were really impressed with how Maddie went, she really had a clean sweep with all the results,” the duo’s coach Tony Misson said.

“She just pulled it all together and had a really good run, that’s what everybody’s been talking about. Maddie was the quickest female paddler for all her races, often she was in among the men for all her times.”

“Kristy had a trying run but she got there, Kristy’s new boat was a real challenge for her to handle.” 

Batters and Packham used Go-Pro cameras to help them with the tough paddling at Shark’s Tooth.

“It’s pretty crazy stuff, so they did a few reconnaissance paddles with Go-Pros then we went back to the house to watch it and pick their lines,” Misson said.

“There was a lot of big crashes, I’m just pleased the girls weren’t one of them. One of the girls dislocated her shoulder, a lot of them had swims.”

Batters was runner-up in the under-18s rapid sprint and classic races last year behind Olympian Jessica Fox, and tamed the tough conditions again this year.

“Mitta Mitta was pretty hard – the Shark’s Tooth rapid speaks for itself, it was pretty big water,” Batters said.

The rapid sprint was held on the Goulburn River near Eildon and Packham again only just made the national team because of a blistering pace set by the fastest man, McIntyre.

“When you’ve got a guy that’s Australian surf champion and Australian sprint champion – he just smashed it in the men’s – that puts pressure on everyone,” Misson said.

“That’s why it’s a small national team, a lot of people didn’t make it this year.”

Batters also won her division and qualified for the national under-18 team, while Leigh Murphy picked-up two bronze medals in the veterans division.

Batters will race in the Australian Schools Whitewater today at Eildon along with Catholic College Bendigo schoolmates Lucas Teasdale and Ben McLean.

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