Kiwi paddler wins extreme title in Europe

EXTREME DROP: Tauranga white-water kayaker Michael Dawson has beaten out Europe's stars of the sport to win the extreme downhill crown in Norway.
EXTREME DROP: Tauranga white-water kayaker Michael Dawson has beaten out Europe's stars of the sport to win the extreme downhill crown in Norway.

Mike Dawson of Tauranga has won a major extreme kayaking event in Norway, heading off some of Europe's best paddlers.

The 21-year-old, who narrowly missed a berth at the Beijing Olympics in whitewater slalom, captured the extreme downhill crown at the Ekstremsportveko competition.

He finished his two runs down the Brandset River in three minutes 42.11 seconds, more than 5sec ahead of Italian Michele Ramazza, who has dominated the European season.

"It was the best feeling - there are so many Kiwis here that were so proud to see a fellow-New Zealander win against the Northern Hemisphere superstars," Dawson told the Bay of Plenty Times today.

Dawson's brother James still has a chance to qualify for the Olympics in the C1 (canoe slalom) class.

He is racing in the World Cup meet at Tacen, Slovenia starting tonight, needing to finish in the top-16 nations, having dipped out in his first attempt last week in the Czech Republic.

"I had an average second run on the course and ended up in 38th place, which wasn't a good result for me after placing 30th on the first day," James Dawson said.

"I have one last chance in Tacen and, hopefully, I can get up."

Fellow-Tauranga kayaker Luuka Jones is also in with a chance in Tacen, though she will have to improve on her 39th place in the Czech Republic.

If Jones misses, her spot may go to Tauranga Girls' College student Ella Nicholas, who is representing the Cook Islands.

NZPA