High Performance Strategy 2024 and beyond

As a result of excellent work put in over the last few months Canoeing Ireland are delighted to release our new High Performance Strategy – Pathway to Performance Paris 2024 and Beyond. As part of the widespread changes to the performance culture in paddlesports this strategy aims to support and develop current and future talented […]

Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls to Heat up Penrith Whitewater Stadium 21-23Feb

2020 Olympic Dreams are Made at 2000 Olympic Legacy Venue

20 years after the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Penrith Whitewater Stadium will once again see Olympic dreams in the making with the 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Festival this weekend the decider for Australia’s two last remaining canoe slalom spots for Tokyo 2020 in the men’s C1 and men’s K1 (21-23 February 2020). 
Tasmanian Daniel Watkins as well as Rio Olympian Lucien Delfour (NSW) are in the lead going into the final selection round after winning the men’s C1 and K1 at the Oceania Championships respectively in Auckland at the start of February, but with another two races to count for selection this weekend, it really is anyone’s game. 

Daniel Watkins C1 – Photo Bence Vekassy

In the men’s C1, Watkins will be chased by Rio Olympian Ian Borrows (NSW), who finished third at the Oceania Championships with Oceania Champs finalists Steven Lowther (WA), Ethan Hodson (NSW), Tristan Carter (VIC) and Brodie Crawford (WA) also at his heels. 
In the men’s K1, Delfour put in an impressive fast time at Oceania Champs and will be aiming to repeat this on his home course to secure his Tokyo 2020 ticket. Western Australian Ben Pope, who finished fourth at the Oceania Champs in Auckland will be pushing him, as will Oceania finalists Tristan Carter and Daniel Watkins, who are doubling up in both the C1 and K1. 

Lucien Delfour K1 – Photo Jaime Troughton, Dscribe Media 

The final round of canoe slalom national selection trials will confirm, who will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection for Tokyo 2020 next week, plus will decide the 2020 Paddle Australia canoe slalom teams, including World Cup, U23 and Junior teams and Olympic reserves. Teams are expected to be announced at the end of February.
Making the top ten finals will be a tough challenge at the 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Festival with the world’s best canoe slalom paddlers from 23 countries making it an Olympic-calibre event. 
Exactly five months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the 2000 Olympic venue will be presenting a competition of Olympic class and dimensions with a stellar international line-up of Olympic champions and medallist at the start line, including Australia’s most successful individual canoe slalom paddler of all time and dual Olympic medallist Jessica Fox (NSW). 

Jessica Fox – Photo Bence Vekassy 

Fox spearheads an impressive line-up of Olympic medallists including amongst others Olympic bronze medallist Jiří Prskavec (CZE) who is also the reigning men’s kayak world champion, Olympic silver medallist and two times world champion in the men’s kayak Peter Kauzer (SLO), Olympic women’s K1 silver medallist Luuka Jones (NZL) as well as Germany’s London 2012 K1 Olympic bronze medallist  Hannes Aigner (GER) and Japan’s Takuya Haneda, who won bronze at Rio 2016 in the C1 men’s category.
Also at the start line will be amongst others 2019 World Champion in the men’s C1 Cedric Joly (FRA), silver medallist Ander Elosegi (ESP), men’s K1 2019 World Championship silver and bronze medallists David Llorente (ESP) and Joan Crespo (ESP) as well as world ranked number 2 in C1 men Alexander Slafkowsky from Slovakia. 
In the women’s events, 2019 K1 and C1 world cup winner and world championships silver medallist Jessica Fox will have the chance for a rematch with Germany’s 2019 C1 world champion Andrea Herzog in the C1 as well as with Rio Olympic silver medallist and 2019 world championships bronze medallist in the K1 Luuka Jones from New Zealand. Germany’s world ranked number 2 Ricarda Funk as well as 2019 women’s kayak European Champion Amy Hilgertova from the Czech Republic are also vying for the top spots

“Thank you to Penrith City Council, Paddle Australia and Sport Australia and all the volunteers, staff and officials, who will be out there helping us run an awesome event and thank you to all the athletes for coming out here year after year to Penrith. I was six when the Olympics were on in 2000 and I remember seeing some phenomenal Czech, Slovak, French, German athletes on the top of that podium and many of them are here now carrying on their legacy and it’s great to see some new athletes and new countries in the mix as well. Good luck to everyone and see you on the start line,” Jessica Fox said, who has already been selected to represent Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in both the women’s K1 and C1.  

Every year, the 2000 Olympic venue hosts the first International Canoe Federation (ICF) world-ranking event of the season with the best international slalom paddlers making the most of Australia’s summer and the world-class facilities at Penrith Whitewater Stadium in their preparation for the Euro-centric World Cup season and Olympic Games. 
This underlines the long Olympic tradition of the venue with past Olympic champions and medallists continuing to support the venue and event. Many of them are back in Penrith this week to once again support this year’s 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Festival either as team managers, coaches or competitors and Paddle Australia together with the Mayor of Penrith Cr Ross Fowler OAM recognised them for their ongoing support earlier this week. 
Amongst the Olympians recognised were Italy’s 1992 K1 Olympic Champion Pierpaolo Ferrazzi, who was also a bronze medallist in Penrith at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Athens men’s K1 Olympic champion Benoit Peschier from France, Elena Kaliska from Slovakia who won the women’s kayak at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 as well as London 2012 K1 Olympic Champion Daniele Molmenti from Italy. 

From left to right: Moment, Kaliska, Cr Ross Fowler OAM, Peschier, Ferrazzi – Photo: JGRImages

Securing canoe slalom for the Olympic Games 2000 took an international effort and set the foundation for ongoing world-class canoe slalom events in Penrith up to this day. 
“20 years ago this venue hosted the Olympic competition in 2000 and to achieve that it took a lot of work from a lot of people. Canoe Slalom wasn’t on the initial program and there was a lot of work done by the ICF, Penrith City Council, Ross (mayor) and his team, Richard Fox and others to ensure that it was reinstated in 2000 and the competition went ahead,” Paddle Australia CEO Phil Jones recognised the work done to bring canoe slalom to the 2000 Games and to Penrith.

“Had it not been for that work in 2000, life could have been very different for everyone in canoe slalom. That work made a big difference to canoeing internationally and we would like to acknowledge the people who did the work back then who made sure that we are still here. So, to Ross and his team, Richard (Fox), thank you,” Phil Jones added. 
With new funding secured last year, plans are currently in the making to secure the Olympic legacy of the Penrith Venue and create a new exciting future for Sydney’s iconic sporting venue. 
“2020 is a bit of a moment in time for us with this venue which has served sport well for 20 years in need for some investment and we are pleased that the federal government before the last election committed some funding to do some work here. We are now working with Ross, with the state and federal government and other agencies to try and try to look at a master plan to move the stadium forward, which will once again be of benefit to the local economy as well as paddling internationally,” Phil Jones explained. 

Paddle Australia CEO Phil Jones – Photo JGRImages 

With new plans on the horizon, Olympic canoeing’s future is looking bright with the weekend to showcase the world’s best and the excitement of canoe slalom. 
Entry to all days of the competition is free for spectators with the canoe slalom competition to start at 8:15 a.m. on Friday, 21 February with heats. Semi-finals and finals in the men’s C1 and women’s K1 are scheduled for Saturday, before Sunday will see the women’s C1, mixed C2 and men’s K1 semi-finals and finals.
The 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Festival will be the largest international whitewater event in the Asia Pacific this year celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the Sydney 2020 Olympic Games. The event will also include the 2020 Paddle Australia Freestyle Championships. 
A great selection of Australia’s and the world’s best whitewater paddlers will contest the 2020 Paddle Australia Freestyle Championships with the freestyle events spearheaded by three-time world cup champion and Guinness World record holder Jez Jezz (NSW) as well as Australia’s first ever Junior world championships medallist Jack Newland (VIC). Japan’s World Cup Champion Suematso Yoshiko will also be contesting the event and will be up against Great Britain’s eight-time world champion Clare O’Hara.
The freestyle competition will start Saturday afternoon, 22 February with heats and with finals to follow on Sunday in between the canoe slalom semi-finals and finals. 
See event schedule HERE
See canoe slalom finals on both Saturday and Sunday will also be live streamed – link will be posted HERE 

Interviews, photos and updates will be posted on www.facebook.com/auspaddleteam 
More information: www.whitewater.paddle.org.au

Liam Jegou Officially Selected Tokyo 2020

Canoeing Ireland’s Liam Jegou has become the first athlete to be officially announced for Team Ireland in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This is fantastic for both Liam, and canoeing in Ireland. For Liam this marks a chance to fulfil his dream of representing Ireland at an Olympic Games, and a chance to compete on […]

Liam Jegou Officially Selected Tokyo 2020

Canoeing Ireland’s Liam Jegou has become the first athlete to be officially announced for Team Ireland in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This is fantastic for both Liam, and canoeing in Ireland. For Liam this marks a chance to fulfil his dream of representing Ireland at an Olympic Games, and a chance to compete on […]

2020 Canoe Slalom National Development Squad in Action at Whitewater Festival

The 2020 Canoe Slalom National Development Squad (NDS) was recently announced following a selection process including the Canoe Slalom Age Championships on the Mersey River in Tasmania, the Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Senior Championships in Penrith and a two-day Selection Camp held at Penrith mid-January. The camp displayed great improvement in the overall standards and a strong commitment by the athletes to their development.

Thirty-one athletes from around Australia were invited to attend the Selection Camp which was led by Paddle Australia’s Canoe Slalom Head Pathway Coach, Mike Druce and Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom National Coaches Myriam Fox and Robin Jeffery.

The 2020 NDS includes 17 athletes, including four further potential positions pending on obtaining the Junior Minimum Performance Standards at the upcoming Sydney International Whitewater Festival – Australian Open, which will see all NDS athletes in action at Penrith Whitewater Stadium (21-23 February 2020).

The 2020 team consist of a strong mix of new and returning paddlers with Western Australian George Pankhurst making his second NDS team.

“It’s my second time on the NDS which is pretty exciting and we have lots of good camps to go to and a New Zealand tour to look forward to,” an excited George Pankhurst said about some of the training activities that are part of being on the NDS.

“You are in the top 16 of the Australian athletes and you’ve been recognised for your skills on the water and your drive to improve it takes you to the next level so you can make Junior team,” Pankhurst explained, who his aiming for his first Junior team this year.

“We had our nationals in December and I had to make percentage which is the time off the fastest paddler and make top three junior boats and I’m currently sitting in second so I have to make the top three boats again this weekend to secure a spot,” Pankhurst added about the upcoming junior team selection racing as part of the Sydney International Whitewater Festival.

Over 300 paddlers from 23 countries will be contesting the Sydney International Whitewater Festival, including multiple world champions, world and Olympic medallists, making it an exciting event to be part of for Australia’s aspiring Olympic paddlers.

“It’s really exciting to be able to paddle with the world’s best athletes and watch them do the same course you did, so you can learn off them and one day I hope to be aiming for the Olympics as well,” the 16-year old from Ascot Kayak Club added.

Fellow NDS team mate and new comer to the team Miranda Pulkkinen (NSW) is also excited to get the opportunity to be racing at the same event as the world’s best

“I’m super excited for the racing ahead and it’s exciting to have everyone here. It is a bit intimidating as well, you don’t want to embarrass yourself but it will be very exciting to see everyone paddle and showing all their different skills,” Miranda Pulkkinen said.

The 15-year old from Penrith is thrilled to be on her first NDS team and hopes to make the Junior team next year.

“I’m very grateful to have been accepted into the NDS. It’s such a big opportunity and I’m really excited because I will learn so much from the NDS and just being around all the other NDS kids is great. Junior team will be more for next year, but every race counts and is leading up to it and it’s all just practice really. This weekend can count towards Junior team selection but I’m not too focussed on that at the moment. This year was to make NDS which I’m quite happy with and next year will hopefully be going towards Junior team,” the 15-year old said.

This year’s team includes a strong contingent of six up and coming women’s canoe slalom paddlers with three additional paddlers having the chance to qualify at this weekend’s Whitewater Festival at Penrith Whitewater Stadium (21-23 February 2020).

“There weren’t that many girls last year but it’s great to see so many new girls getting into the sport and getting into the NDS, so now it’s more balanced with the boys and the girls,” Miranda said about the increased numbers.

A Penrith local and with Penrith Whitewater Stadium her home course, Miranda draws her inspiration from the likes of Jessica and Noemie Fox, who are from her club.

“Jess and Noemie are such a big inspiration and role models for us. Just seeing them paddle is so inspiring and you get so much out of it, which is really good,” Miranda explained.

Racing at the 2020 Sydney International Whitewater Stadium starts on Friday, 21 February with the heats.

See the full 2020 Canoe Slalom National Development Squad here: 2020 NDS Announcement

Follow @auspaddleteam on Instagram and Facebook for updates and find more information on www.whitewater.paddle.org.au

2020 Canoe Slalom National Development Squad

Jack Choate, Western Australia

Hugh Clements, Tasmania

Abby Collins*, Victoria

Mark Crosbee, Victoria

Sarah Crosbee, Victoria

Dominic Curtin, New South Wales

Hamish Dalziel, Tasmania

Declan Ellis, New South Wales

Claire Hodgman*, Tasmania

Ryan Hughes, Victoria

Danielle Latter, New South Wales

George Lazenby*, Tasmania

Jess Libreri*, New South Wales

Ben Little, Victoria

Sebastian Montalto, Victoria

Kate Moorhen, Victoria

Georgie O’Callaghan, Victoria

George Pankhurst, Western Australia

Miranda Pulkkinen, New South Wales

Ben Ross, Victoria

Sophie Wilson, New South Wales

Congratulations all!


* Subject to making Junior Minimum Performance Standard percentage