Thursday, August 23, 2012

London 2012 Olympics

How do I say this without sounding too excited...

I have been invited to be part of the freestyle kayak display team performing daily shows at the London 2012 Olympics!!!!

Freestyle Kayaking at the London 2012 Olympics

The Olympic games started on Friday and for the first time ever freestyle kayaking is going to be involved. I have been invited to be part of a team of 6 paddlers who will be performing daily shows at the Lee Valley White Water course as part of the slalom event. The team is made up of World Champions and top paddlers from 5 continents across the World; Claire O'Hara (GB), James Bebbington (GB), Dane Jackson (USA), Courtney Kerin (NZ), Motoko Ishida (JPN) and Juma (UGN). On Tuesday everyone arrived and we headed into London with our trusty chaperone and event coordinator Terry Best (ICF). It was the frist time Courtney, Motoko and Dane had been to London so we had loads of fun jumping on and off trains and tubes as we made our way across London to pick up our official accreditation.

Heading across London to get our official accreditation
Now we are officially a team

Friday quickly came and it was time for our first training session. It was an early start and we were on the water by 8am before the official slalom training slots. The course looks so different now to last time I was here with its new London 2012 banner trim and massive 12,000+ seat spectator stands, multiple film crews and cameras, miles of fencing, security and police. 

London 2012 Lee Valley White Water Course

Arriving at the Olympic Course to train

Our first training session was super fun, trying to work out which holes were deep enough and suitable for the tricks and also well enough positioned for the spectators to see us from the stands.The course at the moment is understandably set up for slalom but luckily still has a few great freestyle features. We had a 1hour training slot to figure out a plan and get used to the features. Normally 1 hour would be no time at all but on this super powered up, fast course, 1 hour is plenty and by the end of the session not only did we have a plan but we were also shattered!

All kitted up in our official matching kit

It was funny looking at each other during the session in our matching official London 2012 Olympic freestyle kit. White helmets, black paddles, blue/white/back cag decks and solid coloured boats. We looked very smart but very different from usual. Training finishes and we jump of the water and are quickly immersed into interviews, filming and prep for the VT and media around the event.

The media begins
Exciting times Me, Terry and Pringle

Mid afternoon quickly comes and we get some awesome news... Lluis and Simon (ICF) have managed to get us tickets for tonights opening ceremony. This was incredible news! So we quickly headed back to our accommodation to get changed and ready.