18 Sep 2015

Jones reaches slalom semi-final

11:41 am on 18 September 2015

The New Zealand kayaker Luuka Jones has advanced to the semi-finals at the canoe slalom world championships in London.

The New Zealand canoe slalom kayaker Luuka Jones in action.

The New Zealand canoe slalom kayaker Luuka Jones in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Jones had the 19th-fastest time in the 67-boat field in qualifying, putting her straight through to Sunday morning's semi-final and giving her dreams of a third consecutive Olympic appearance a major boost.

It wasn't all plain-sailing for the 26-year-old paddler.

Jones got off to a rocky start and picked up an early two second penalty on the tough Lee Valley whitewater course, but her time of 97.51 seconds was just good enough.

"I'm really happy I qualified in the end - I wouldn't say I was super-happy but it was enough at the end of the day," Jones said.

"I made a big mistake through the third and fourth gates and really had to adjust my line, then I hit a gate about a third of the way down, but you really need to be objective on this course and just keep going. You can't get caught up in the mistakes."

Although Jones finished just 0.06 seconds in front of Ukrainian Viktoriia Us, it was a crucial margin, as it meant she avoided the repechage round.

That's something of a novelty for Jones this season, after struggling for consistency through the world cup rounds.

"I've been saving it all for this one," she quipped. "It makes a big difference - I would've been waiting around for three hours before the next run and it's mentally draining more than anything. Now I've got two days to readjust and correct a few things before the semifinal."

She can also relax and watch the other members of the New Zealand team, with C1 paddlers Ben Gibb, James Thwaites and Shaun Higgins in action tomorrow morning and K1 men Mike Dawson, Callum Gilbert and Finn Butcher lining up on Saturday morning.

The K1 paddlers need to finish in the top-15 nations to qualify a position at Rio de Janeiro, while the C1 canoeists need to place in the top-10.