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Nicholls paddles to World Cup medals
Jim Morton
22:11 AEST Sun May 27 2012

West Australian paddler Alana Nicholls has confirmed she'll be a legitimate contender in both her kayaking events at the London Olympics following two medals at this weekend's World Cup regatta in Germany.

Nicholls took an impressive silver behind Hungarian Danuta Kozak in the K1 500m on Saturday before backing up to win bronze in the K1 200m on Sunday night (AEST).

After taking a year off to have a baby, Hungarian great Natasa Douchev-Janics showed she'd lost little of her class by pipping New Zealand world champion Lisa Carrington in the 200m sprint.

Douchev-Janics won in 40.751 seconds, 0.09 ahead of Carrington, with Nicholls almost a second behind and happy to be on the podium .

Nicholls will attack both the 200-500 double at Eton Dorney in London in more than two months time and the 500m currently looks her strongest race.

At Duisberg, the Bayswater product powered home to win silver in 1:52.26, 1.08 seconds behind Kozak.

"It was good, I got to the 250 mark and thought I was out of the race, all I could see was girls around me, but I managed to pull something out and come home strong," she said.

Manly paddler Murray Stewart enjoyed an impressive start to his K1 1000 campaign by leading a world-class field until late before finishing fifth in the final.

A member of Australia's world No.2-ranked K4 1000m crew, the result was an encouraging start for Stewart who beat Olympic champion Ken Wallace in qualifying for the solo boat.

Wallace, who is focussing on the K2 1000 for London with new partner David Smith, also raced in the K1 event at Duisberg but failed to make the final after finishing fourth in his semi-final.

Stewart's K4 crew finished fourth in their final - beaten by the Czechs, Denmark and Russia - a second off bronze, while the Australian women's K4 500 crew finished sixth in their final.

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