Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The World Championships begin...

The last 10 days have seen over 180 athletes arrive and begin training at the Nantahala Outdoor Centre. For the last 8 days each of the 30 nations have been designated an official training slot giving the athletes 3 minutes each of quality uninterrupted training time.

30 nations competing. Over 180 athletes training

Crowded eddies as training commences

As each nation trained other competitors gathered to watch and see how their competitors were performing as they plan and prepare their own routines. Coaches watched, filmed and fed back to the athletes helping fine tune their performances ensuring they are completing each move perfectly to the ICF descriptions, as every second is vital during the 45 second competition runs and every move needs to count.

2011 World Champions Pringle and ClaireO
As the week has gone on the excitement around the event has been building. The bleachers have gone up, the lights now surround the feature, the judges stand, media and coaches stand have been built and a massive TV screen has been set up overlooking the hole. Accreditation has been issued, meetings are being had. TV interviews are happening, photos, blogs and last night the final piece of the picture; the opening ceremony in Bryson City. The official opening of the 2013 World Championships event.

Islay is ready!!!

Thousands of people came to the small mountain town to meet the athletes and watch the parade and entertainment. Local children lead each team carrying placards with the countries name on it and a big flag. The streets were lined two or three people deep with family, friends and spectators. The organisers, town officials and ICF gave speeches welcoming athletes and spectators alike before a Cherokee group lead a fantastic traditional dance session and introduced us to the history and culture of the area. The official World Championship brass band played out the national athems before the evening continued with live music and a big air ramp kayak display of the main town bridge.

Cherokee Dancer

A local Cherokee youngster watches on

Athletes fly through the sky of the big air ramp

Then today the action moved back to the NOC as the event kicked of with the Junior Men and OC1 prelims. We already have 10 juniors through to the semi finals and 6 OC1's through to the final. Its is official the 2013 World Championships have definitely begun.

Jez competes in the OC1 heats

Check out all the action live on livestream at http://www.freestylekayaking2013.com/worlds-live-feed.html and get all the news from www.sportscene.tv and www.freestylekayaking2013.com

Time to battle

I am starting my World Championship journey tomorrow kicking of the action as the first paddler up in the first heat in the Squirt Womens class at 11am (USA time).