Friday, March 20, 2009

Great British Freestyle and Squirt Boating Team Selection 2009

What a week!!!

This weekend the GB Freestyle Team 2009 Selection Event took place at Hurley Weir on the the River Thames. The event was held to select a team to represent Great Britain at the Freestyle World Championships in Switzerland in September

Having being told mid summer last year to focus on one discipline and not my usual two, I had spent most of the winter in the gym and the pool working on developing my fitness levels and squirt boating skills ready for the Great British Squirt Boating Team selections 2009.

Squirt boating was up first on Saturday morning. With 15 competitors entered, high winds and strong currents made the competition tough and competitors really had to battle hard in an effort to try and win a place on the team.

After an hour of harsh competition the team was decided.

The ladies squirt boating team for the 2009 World Championships is Claire O'Hara, Emma Runsimmon and Sara James and the men's team is James Reeves, Pete Cornes and Chris Jones.

Ben White the current World Champion will also be representing Great Britain in Switzerland in September at the Worlds when he goes to defend his title.

Following the squirt boating competition the focus moved to the main weir pool where the freestyle competiton took place on the infamous Hurley Wave. Again the competition standard was very high and the athletes put on a great display showing high quality, skillful freestyle performances.

Congratulations to the following athletes who made the British Team and good luck at the Worlds.

GB Freestyle Kayaking Team 2009

K1 Men The kayak men's team

* Alan Ward (team)
* Doug Cooper (team)
* Jon Best (team)
* Richard Chrimes (team)
* Sam Anderson (team)
* Chris Bucksey (reserve)
* Jeff Grainger (squad)
* Mark Childerhouse (squad)

K1 Ladies The kayak ladies team

* Emily Wall (team)
* Fiona Jarvie (team)
* Lowri Davies (team)
* Flic Meares (reserve)
* Claire O'Hara (squad)
* Nicola Beeby (squad)

K1 Junior Men's The junior kayak men's team

* Arron Layton (team)
* Ben West (team)
* Stuart Parry (team)
* Joe Bradley (reserve)
* Adam Cox (squad)
* Brandon Hepburn (squad)
* James Benns (squad)

K1 Junior Ladies The junior ladies kayak team

* Islay Crosby (team)
* Poppy Layton (team)
* Gabby Bates (reserve)
* Millie Leith (squad)

C1 Unisex The closed canoe mixed team

* David Bainbridge (team)
* Lee Pyke (team)
* Stuart Parry (team)
* David Florence (reserve)
* Richard Longley (reserve)
* Lee Royle (squad)

OC1 Unisex The open canoe mixed team

* James Bradley (team)
* Paul King (team)

Squirt Men The men's squirt team

* Chris Jones (team)
* James Reeves (team)
* Pete Cornes (team)
* Arron Layton (reserve)
* Adam Dumolo (squad)
* Luke Farrington (squad)

Squirt Ladies The ladies squirt team

* Claire O'Hara (team)
* Emma Runciman (team)
* Sara James (team)
* Millie Leith (reserve)

Oh yeah I forgot to mention... I couldn't resist having a go at Freestyle again too. So I will also still be on the GB Freestyle Team in 2009 but this time as a squad member. :o)

British Freestyle Kayak Display Team at the NEC Outdoors Show 2009

2009 sees the return of the GB Freestyle Kayak Display Team to the NEC Indoor Pool.

Freestyle kayaking is a unique form of kayaking in which athletes perform spectacular gymnastic style moves usually whilst surfing large waves or paddling down challenging white water rapids.

For this event the athletes will be bringing the art of freestyle to the NEC pool where they will be demonstrating a mix of the most complex moves. The team will be performing displays each day and will take you on a journey, showing the development of freestyle. The team will help break down the moves to show you the fundamental stages involved from the Eskimo roll through to Mcnasty, Phonix Monkey and Tricky Woo. This is a show not to be missed it is a high quality display of skill and strength by some of the Worlds top kayaking athletes.

The display team will include Freestyle’s 3 times British Champion and European Champion David Bainbridge, Squirt Boating’s British Champion, European Champion and World Silver Medallists Claire O’Hara. Squirt Boating’s British Champion, European Champion and World No 4 James Reeves and Junior UK Freestyle Series winner and flat water freestyle extraordinaire Stuart Parry.

The GB Freestyle Kayak Team are currently training for the forthcoming World Freestyle Kayaking Championships which will be held in Switzerland in September 2009.

If you are interested in finding out more about the athletes and the team or if you fancy getting involved in kayaking yourself check out the following websites… ClaireO’Hara James Reeves GB Freestyle Team The British Canoe Union

Squirt Boat Training at Leeds Met University

The wonderful world of squirt boating is a place rarely visited by most. It is a fascinating world in which pain seeking boaters squeeze themselves into handcraft glitter coated crafts, designed specifically ‘not’ to float. These sinking boats offer their riders the opportunity to experience a new dimension of life through exploration of water in its simplest form.

These special people of which there are only a few have a soul and understanding that allows them to be at one with the water. They skilfully paddle as one with the boat, performing complex manoeuvres, stylishly and effortlessly above and below the water surface.

They travel the world searching and striving for the ultimate ride. They seek out the perfect charcs (circular flows of the river water) that allow them smooth unhindered travel into the depths of the water. They do it solely for the enjoyment; they do it because it is fun.

I am one of these few people. I am a squirt boater. I am searching for the ultimate ride...

Over the last few months I have been trying to master the above water element of this complex sport. I have been working hard with a team of video analysts in the swimming pool trying to work out the fine bio mechanical processes involved in each of the squirt boating freestyle (above the water) manoeuvres. Over the next few months I will be travelling across the World to try to master the next step, the underwater travel. The mystery...

This short video will hopefully give you a small insight into the strange yet wonderful squirt boating world.

Thanks to Leeds Met University for their help in supporting my pool based training this year.

Five a Day!!!

When I first went to see the Nutritional Support Team at Leeds Met University in October last year and they told me I had to eat breakfast and have at least five a day I thought ‘great, sounds good’. I’m a boater, of course I could see no problems at all in consuming a McDonalds breakfast or a full English followed by the full five C’s a day of coke, chocolate, crisps, chips and a curry. In fact it should be positvely enjoyable and would be easy.

...But no this diet plan of a boater was not the diet plan of an athlete that they had in mind. They were proposing big changes, huge changes. They were talking about, dare I say it... apples, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes; they were talking about Fruit and Veg! And for breakfast they were not suggesting bacon and egg mc’muffins washed down with lashing of coffee and fizzy drinks, but they were talking about cereals! They were not even talking about nice sugar coated fun cereals like coco pops and frostie’s that I could maybe consider working towards coping with first thing in the morning. They were talking healthy cereals, cereals that have a closer resemblance to a cut up cardboard box than an enjoyable morning snack.

Surely they weren’t being serious. Surely they didn’t really mean it! Did they not understand the level of difficulty in what they were asking.

‘and have a piece of fruit and a glass of juice fresh fruit juice with it’

... what were they suggesting, surley not... nooooooooooooooo!

Ok major panic over maybe I could do this maybe I could cut out the fast food, and quick fix junk and snacks that had kept me going all my life in particularly on the road over the last few years. Maybe this could work. Maybe it could help sort out my ever fluctuating energy levels which I had put down to an undetected dose of billharzier. Maybe my energy levels could have some small tiny little link to the fact that I had been living off a high sugar, high E number junk food diet. Maybe just maybe this new diet could help. Maybe it could be worth trying...

But then when it looked like it was all going to be reasonably ok they hit me with the crunch. They spoke the words that few would dare, they told me...

‘You need to cut down the coke!!!’

Stunned, silent! Surely I had misheard them...

‘cut down the coke?’



Coke you might ask aren’t you an athlete! Surely you don’t have such a thing!
We’ll the truth is I did and it was a very hard moment as I had to admit to myself there and then, in my first meeting that I had a problem. That I was an addict. That I was addicted to coke!!!

After 12 years of paddling in the UK. After many hours spent in urban white water environments on rivers such as the Aire, the Trent and the Thames I was addicted. I was addicted to the black tar like substance in the red can that called itself coke-cola.

5 months later and I am now clean. I haven’t touched a can of coke-cola since October and with the continued help and support of the fantastic Sports Nutrition Team, at the Leeds Metropolitan University Carnegie Centre of Sports Performance and Well Being, I am now well on the way to leading a much healthier life. The team have worked hard to create a diet plan that fits in around my hectic kayaking lifestyle and that I enjoy.

I did have to make a few big changes and I am now pleased to say that thanks to their help I am well on my way to reaching my health and fitness goals for the forthcoming World Championships later this year.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

GB Freestyle Team Selection, Training at Hurley Weir Feb 2009

Since Xmas my training for the British Freestyle Team Selections 2009 has been going really well.

I have been spending a lot of time in the gym, with my personal trainer Gio and in the swimming pool at Leeds Met University in my squirt boat.

I am now in the final training preparation stages and the focus has changed to more site specific, river training. I have spent the last few weeks on the London weirs at Hurley and Hambledon with my team mate Stu Parry. Where we have been working on some new moves and we have been putting together some ride plans for both the freestyle and squirt boating competitions.

Thanks to the recent mix of weather we have been fortunate to have had a few fantastic days training in the sun and with the River Thames still full of water it is looking that Hurley Weir will be the venue for next weekend’s event.

Here is a short video of us training for the freestyle event on Hurley Weir

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Leeds Sports Woman of the Year

Team Peakuk paddler Claire O'Hara has just been awarded Leeds Sports Woman of the Year. Claire received the award for her dedication to Freestyle and Squirt Kayaking in which she has excelled over the last few years winning European, World and British titles. Well done!!
(Pete Astles PeakUK)

What a fantastic way to start the year.

I received a letter in January saying that I had been nominated as the Leeds Sports Women of the Year.

In 2006 I received 2nd place at the awards as highly commended Sports Woman of the Year so to be nominated again was a fantastic suprise.

The event took place on Monday the 22nd February 2009 at the Leeds Carnegie Headingley Stadium and was hosted by the Leeds Sports Federation, Sports Leeds and Leeds Met University.

The evening started with a lovely meal followed by the awards. I was joined at the event by my Grandad, Dad, Mum, Aunty Breada and Boyfriend Ian.

It was great to see the city celebrate the success of its top athletes. There was a wide representation of athletes shortlisted to win the awards from a variety of different sports, both Olympic and non Olympic,including diving, squash, disabled weight lifting,hockey, rugby and kayaking.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds and president of the Leeds Sports Federation started presenting the award.

I could not believe it when they announced that I had been chosen alongside boxer Nicola Adams, hockey player Jo Ellis, cyclist Debbie Flood and rower Lizzie Armsitead to win the 2008 Leeds Sports Woman of the Year Award.

Thank you to Leeds Sports Federation and everyone who helped with the event. Thanks to everyone who has helped me in my training and success over the last few years. And a massive thank you those of you who nominated me.

Thank You

Leeds Sports Woman of the Year 2008