Saturday, August 25, 2012

Freestyle Kayaking makes its debut at the Olympics

A first... in kayaking and Olympic history

So the next 5 days went by in a bit of an action packed blur. Each day we had a set slot on the course, to perform a 6 - 15 min freestyle display, to entertain the crowds. The first two days we were on at the end of the slalom event after the heats and on the final 3 days we performed between the finals and the medal ceremonies.

Claire O and Pringle in action at the Olympic course
Unfortunately Pringle injured himself skate barding home from day 2 so couldn't join us for the final 3 days where we performed to a massive crowd of over 12,000 spectators each day. The response we got was massive everyone was amazed at what we could do. There was huge cheers each time any of us did a big loop or surfed a wave or even did a roll. Pas, was on the mic, mc'ing our routine. Introducing the crowd to our sport as the VT introduced us and the moves on the big screen. 

My mum joins the crowds to watch on the first day

It was super exciting and an incredible experience to be part of it all. The energy throughout the stadium was huge. Especially on the final day as Tim and Ettiene and David and Richard had just finished first and second winning the Gold and Silver medals (respectively) for GB in the C2 finals. An absolutely incredible day not only for team GB and GB Canoeing but also for the ICF with the guys making Olympic history.

An incredible day for Team GB Canoeing (photo by Peak UK)

By the end of the week well over 50,000 people had seen our sport live at the event with many thousands more across the World watching on live stream. Freestyle had not only made it into the minds of the olympic organisers and onto the Olympic timetable but had also been seen by a massive broader audience hopefully inspiring many future young paddlers across the world.

This is what this whole experience was about

As quickly as the event had started it all came to an end. Feeling almost like a surreal dream. Our final stage of the adventure being an invitation to the ICF celebration party where we were thanked for our involvement and presented with a gold ICF medal inscribed with the London 2012 emblem. Then it was time to to pack up and take our medals and first official Olympic freestyle bibs home.  

The London 2012 Olympic freestyle kayak display team
Courtney Kerin, Motoko Ishida, Terry Best, Dane Jackson, Claire O'Hara, Juma and James 'Pringle' Bebbington (absent from pic)