Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 6 : Finals Day & The Closing Ceremony

Smiles, Tricks and Fireworks

First off congratulations has to go to all the finalist and especially to Team GB's Sophie McPeak (Bronze medal), Hugo Scott (Bronze medal) who won their first ever World Championships medals and to Charlie Brackpool (5th place) and the awesome flying Bren Orton (5th place) who put down some insane performances to finish in the top 5 and secure their status as some of the top wave boaters in the world.

Bren Orton one of the leading whitewater paddlers
out there representing Great Britain around the world
(photo by Dave Wortley)

But an even bigger, huge and massive congratulation has to go to the young Hugo Anthony and Sage Donnelly who in there first ever World Championship events took hold the gold medals and became the 2015 Junior World Champions.

Hugo the new Jnr Mens World Champion
(photo by Dave Wortley)

Sage Donnelly gets the water shower
(photo by Dave Wortley)

The Womens Freestyle Finals

Now for me this was an interesting finals day for sure. I have been very lucky to have been in several worlds finals but it has been a while since I last went into one not in the top 3 of the pack and although it felt different, it felt great. I no longer had anything to loose. I was in the top 5 in the world at a major wave boating event. I had already won a gold medal in squirt boating and a Diamond (thanks to Jez) and I was now in the World Championships finals again. I knew what I need to do, I needed to enjoy the day. I needed to go out there and have fun and throw some tricks.

Feeling happy and ready sat with Den before my first run
(photo by Clay Wright)

I set off for my first ride, ready. I smiled at Den, Jez and Sneaky Pete. I set off from the eddy and hit the wave. As I dropped in to surf I smiled once more and then hit some tricks. I'm not sure what I threw but I knew I got some great feeling tricks before I flushed. I had scored points. I had been through the mental, physical, technical and tactical battle of the event and I had made it. I had got some points on the board in my first ride and felt very happy with my first run.

Big back blunt
(photo by Tom Zach)

Big Air Blunt
(photo by Peter Holcombe)

Going for a massive left blunt
(photo by Tom Zach)

The score came in. 260 points again. I was stoked. Was it anywhere near what I was capable of throwing during training? no. Was it anywhere as high as I had hoped to be scoring during the event? no. But was it 260 points and in keeping with my best performances of the event so far? Yes. And this made my very happy.

The others then went and Emily Jackson and Hitomi put down some great rides. Hitomi 2 points ahead of me in silver place with Emily clear in the lead in first.

Emily loading up to go big
(photo by Robert Faubert)

Hitomi flys on each and every ride
(photo by Robert Faubert)

I sat in the eddy with Den and we chatted through a plan. I was in 3rd. I had two girls who could knock me off that spot and two girls already ahead of me.

I remember Den asked me a simple question. 'What now? Do you want to paddle to stay on the podium or to go for the win?”

Paddle for the win was the answer. I wanted to try to go big. To showcase what we had learnt and try for the win again.

“Ok then stick to the game plan. The four blunts and then go big” Den said

Someone once asked us what we chat about between runs
(photo by Tom Zach)

So I opened with a massive flash back (big clean air back blunt right). It felt so great and I stuck it perfectly. Then I went into the sequence of blunts. I was in the flow and it was feeling great. I went right then left all was great apart from one thing for some reason (mainly a complete lack of edge) they were both super low. I knew it and for some reason that triggered an interesting decision mid ride. 

Massive Clean Flashback to start the run
(photo by Dave Wortley)
I remember it well. Mid ride. I could hear the crowd they were going wild. I could see the clock it said 14 seconds left. I was excited. I was at the top of the green. I was ready to spin and go for the next move a back blunt left. But then I saw the ramp and everything I knew about competing disappeared and all I wanted to do was to go big and nail a helix. So with 12 seconds left. I broke completely from the plan and I did what felt right in the moment and screamed down the face of the wave and threw.

Going for the helix
(photo by Robert Faubert)

On many occasions this break into a natural flow has worked and has on many occasions one me many medals and events. But here today it didn't as I flushed of the wave and rolled up I couldn't help but smile. I had done it. I had trained hard for and competed at another World Championships event and for the first time in the freestyle event this competition I had truly enjoyed it.

As the other girls took their last rides and as Emily Jackson threw down a sequence of well planned and executed big tricks to finally get her 450+ point run in her victory ride and reclaim her title as the top women's wave boater in the world. With her 3rd World Championship win I felt a massive sense of pride, happiness and relief.
Emily Jackson flying high with a massive Pan Am
(photo by Dave Wortley)

Top 5 girls celebrate Emily's win
(Photo by Jez Jezz)
The Grand Finale...

We are kayakers, we get to live incredible lives surrounded by amazing people, supported by our families and friends in stunning places doing what we love.

The Top 5 in the Womens Freestyle
(photo by Dave Wortley)
Emily Jackson, Adreine, Emily Ward, Hitmoi, Katya and I to name just a few have been part of a revolution in women's freestyle pushing the sport from where our predecessors had it to where it is now. We have young rippers coming up throwing, strong and driving it even further.

Junior Womens World Champion Sage Donnelly
leading the next generation
(photo by Jez Jezz)

Freestyle is amazing, its healthy, its fun.

In the end Emily Jackson, Sage Donnelly, Dane Jackson, Hugo Anthony, Andrew, Stephen Wright and I won this World Championships.

The 2015 ICF Freestyle World Champions
(photo by John Rothwell)

The boys celebrate on the Garb rock
(photo by Jez Jezz)

But... every athlete who went out on that wave and into that eddy and performed in front of the cameras and the massive crowd and represented their country. Who trained hard to improve their paddling and choose to test it at this event. They also won :)

The 2015 ICF Freestyle Kayak World Championships ended Saturday night with massive celebrations and an incredible closing ceremony back at Wilderness Tours with big screens, fireworks and prizes galore. We got to celebrate the achievements of everyone involved in this event. But the journey goes on. Out adventure through life exploring the world, seeking out the best waves, rivers and experiences. Challenging ourselves to be better and better goes on. And for that reason we are all winners.

I high 5 Jez which Dave captures as a 'W'
for 'World Champion' as I go up to collect my
 6th ICF World Championship Gold Medal
(photo by Dave Wortley)

Top of the podium with my great friends Hitomi and Motoko from Japan
(photo by Dave Wortley)

The Worlds come to a spectacular end
(Photo by Robert Faulbert)
On the podium with Hitomi again and another great friend
the World Champion and wonderful Emily Jackson
(photo by Dave Wortley)

Great Britain's Podium and medal winning Athletes
(photo by Dave Wortley)

Thank you to Wilderness Tours, The International Canoe Federation, Dennis Newton, Sooty Sutcliffe, the GB and Australian freestyle teams and all my friends, family and amazing sponsors who helped make this event possible. Thanks also to the judges, organisers and volunteers, in fact thank you to everyone who played a part in helping me and all the other athletes get to this event and who helped make this event such a success.

Oh and of course a massive thank you to my awesome fiancée Jez.

The 2015 ICF World Championships are one I will never forget. This is the year I came home with incredible memories that will last forever and a Gold, Diamond and a Bronze.