Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of Year Review 2015

Kick starting 2016 by reflecting on 2015 and what an awesome year its been. Engagement to my best friend Jez Jezz​, world medals, a gorgeous new nephew, amazing travel all over the world with great friends it really has been incredible.

As with all years along with the massive highs this year has also had its challenges and lows, some you may know over and some you may not. But all of it, the highs and the lows make our life what it is, they shape us and make us who we are as people, show us the value and importance of spending quality time with family, friends and the true value of life, making the most of every day and enjoying life to the full.

As the new year now begins all around the world, I want to wish all my friends and family and paddling community around the world a very Happy New Year. May it be filled with friends, family, good health and happiness and many epic adventures.

Part of my journey as an athlete is to document my journey each year. I do this with an End of Year Review. Here is my 2015 End of Year Review.

Thank you to everyone who shared these adventures with me and helped make it such an awesome year.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

British Canoeing, Australian Canoeing & World Paddle Awards 2015

British Canoeing Awards

I was super excited to find out that I would be recieveing an Athlete Recognition Award at the British Canoeing Athlete &Volunteer Awards night for wining the Squirt Boating World Championships this summer. The event took place in Nottingham and with my new base in Sydney I couldn't make it back to collect the award. Luckily Great Britain team physio and sports masseuse Laura Sutcliffe was able to pick up the award on my behalf.

Ready for action

Securing a place in the British Canoeing History books 

Freestyle making an appearance at the British Canoeing Awards night

Laura on stage with many of the top British Kayak Athletes

There is no doubt that there is a team behind every athlete. Often members of this team go relatively unrecognised and unknown outside of those involved directly in the training and support structure with the athlete. Unknown to many, Laura "Sooty' Sutcliffe has been an instrumental part of my journey and success for many years now. We first met and started working together back in 2008 when she worked at Leeds Met University. As a sports science student and the lifeguard on my pool training sessions she quickly became one of my first squirt boating coaches and worked with me for several hours a week providing vital video analysis sports science support.

Training in the pool you can just see Suttys knee

Using Dartfish an elite Video analysis training package she helped me analyse every component of squirt boating. Working together in the pool at Leeds Met for all winter I managed to gain a real competitive edge, which in the summer of 2009 helped me win my first World Championship World Championship in Switzerland. We kept training and in 2011 Laura flew out to Germany a few weeks before the worlds to help me train and prepare to defend my world champion title. This was in Plattling, where I won my first double Gold.

On tour in Germany 2011

Then this year Laura was there with me. This time at the event. Using her newly development skills as a physio and sports masseuse and her Sports Science knowledge and experience in the sport she volunteered her time to work with the entire GB team as we each battled our way through the event.

Celebrating our most recent success on the banks of the Ottawa river

To have Laura be able to go and pick up my award at the British Canoeing Awards night was a great honour and a great (albeit small) gesture of thanks for all the support she has given me along my journey and in my success.

Thank you Sooty mate for being awesome.

Laura Celebrating with a shiny trophy

Australian Canoeing Awards

Australian Canoeing Awards night
(Photo by Rob Van Bommel Sportscene)

Following the British Canoeing Awards I was invited with Jez to attend the Australian Canoeing awards night. We joined the top Australian Canoeing athletes from across the disciplines as they celebrated another successful year of paddle sport. It was amazing to see Eileen Callegen receive an award for here service in Freestyle Kayaking. Eileen has worked hard for the last few years to develop freestyle in Australia. Thanks for Eileen and the rest of the Australian Freestyle Committee this year Australia saw the largest team ever attend the World Championships. Eileen also worked hard to secure a grant that saw several young girls have the opportunity to get into the sport of freestyle kayaking.

Eileen celebrate a great year with Tim and Kim.
Parents of two of the top Australian junior freestyle kayakers

Mid way through the night myself and Jez were invited on stage by Slalom legend Richard Fox for an interview about our experiences at the World Championships including of course our engagement. Then we announced the Quiz results before Richard rounded up the night.

In our element on stage with an audience and a mic. 

World Paddle Awards

Talking about influential people within paddlersport and one name comes top of my list. As you all already know an absolutely huge, key member of my support team is GB Freestyle Head Coach, Sweet Water Coaching's own, Dennis Newton. I have said before that Dennis is awesome and how vital he has been in my success. It is with great pride that I can announce that Den has been nominated for and Shortlisted as a finalist in the World Paddle Awards. Please take the time to read his nomination bio as it really gives credit to the amazing work that he has done for the sport of kayaking and all his athletes.

DENNIS NEWTON (Great Britain) - Nominee for the 2015 'Foundation Award' in his capacity as a coach.
  • Born: 1978; sport(s): Freestyle, Extreme, Tourism and Recreation; represents: Great Britain

Den ready to roll

Dennis 'Den' Newton has won over 25 World Championship medals, 30 European Championship medals and multiple national titles. He is by far one of the most medal-adundant men in paddlesports. He is the coach behind many famous and successful whitewater champions from around the World.
He is renowned for his work coaching and developing whitewater kayaking across the globe specialising in several disciplines of paddlesports. He is most famously known for his prowess in freestyle having showcased his coaching ability and supporting athletes including 8x World Champion Claire O'Hara.

Dennis has worked with athletes who have represented Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Japan, Canada, America on the national and international circuit including the 2012 Olympics and the White Water Grand Prix, many of whom achieved podium finishes including many Championship titles and first-place finishes.

Dens technical understanding of the tricks and ability to
deliver it to his athletes is second to none

Many claim Dennis is the genius behind the tricks. Whether mentally, physically, technically or tactically, Dennis's knowledge encourage his athletes to reach their peak, striving to be 'the best of the best'. In 2011 he went back to university to study sports science with a specific focus on performance development, whitewater kayaking and freestyle kayaking. All the knowledge from which he has transferred straight back into the sport and to his athletes. In 2015 alone his athletes brought home 8 ICF World Championship medals.

Den's 2015 GB podium athletes

Dennis success stands out from the crowd; his commitment to his athletes and the sport of whitewater kayaking and a freestyle as a whole has been influential in helping it progress to where it is now.
He will describe himslf as uninfluential, yet if you speak to any of the athletes he has worked with, grassroots through to the elite level, they will strongly say otherwise - Dennis is an intregral part of their success.

What makes Dennis unique is that he does this as a volunteer coach. Now subsidised for his work with the British team receiving a small contribution to support him and his expenses at major events, but ninety percent of what he does is voluntary - it is done as a result of his passion and love for the athletes and the sport.

Capturing footage above and below the surface at the
2013 Mystery World Championships

In 2011 Dennis saw the success of the World Class programme in the Olympic canoeing disciplines and chose to establish a similar programme for athletes in the non-Olympic disciplines of freestyle kayak and extreme racing. He set up the ASP (Athlete Support Programme) to provide world class coaching and support to top freestyle athletes from around the world. He used the knowledge he has acquired from studying the different disciplines and single handedly provided this to over 20 of the top international athletes. He has know worked with over 40 of the world top athletes through the ASP programme.

At the same time he worked with the British Canoe Union as a Technical Advisor to develop a panel of people to tackle the issues surrounding grassroots development of the sport. He helped establish the freestyle 'Star Award' and coaching programme that is now rolling out across the UK and Europe. For the last two years he has worked to co-established the World of Champions Training Academy, taking many of the world's most talented freestyle kayakers to Africa in search of the best waves worldwide to train on.

Coaching Athletes in Uganda

In his role as Lead Coach within the sport of freestyle he travels continually around the world to support and train his athletes.

It is regularly said there is a team behind every athlete. In freestyle kayaking it is more commonly known as 'there being 'Dennis' behind each Champ'! He is one of the vital links in the freestyle chain and has helped its progression into the professional sport to which it has now become.
Dennis is a true example of the importance and value of the volunteers that make the sport of kayaking incredible. Dennis has been nominated for the Foundation Award for his incessant commitment to his athletes and the sport.

British Canoeing Performance Coach of the Year 2012
Achievements on and off the water:
  • British Canoeing Performance Coach of the Year
  • World Championships multiple gold, silver and bronze medals
  • European Championship multiple gold, silver and bronze medals
  • Multiple National Championships gold, silver and bronze medals in many nations
  • GB Freestyle Team Performance Director and Head Coach
  • Head Coach for Several National teams including Team GB, Sweden, Norway, Finland
  • Personal Coach to many National teams athletes including athletes from Poland, Canada, USA, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Spain
  • British Canoeing Technical panel founder and member for both Freestyle kayak and White water Kayak
  • Director, Founder and Head Coach of the Athlete Support Programme (ASP)
  • Co Director and Founder of the ADP - World of Champions
Den working his magic making sure everyone enjoys
every moment on the water whilst paddling at their best

Well Done Den and Thank You once again. The winners of the awards will be announced early 2016 in Barcelona at the World Paddle Awards night.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Aussie Xmas Freestyle Comp

Freestyle in Australia

What an awesome weekend. This Saturday freestyle kayakers took over the Penrith White Water Course to showcase some impressive tricks. It was a great demonstration of Australian freestyle kayaking.With a whole mix freestylers coming together  (National team athletes, World Champions, up and coming young paddlers and the very impressive wrinklys crew) all paddling and competing together and coaching and cheering each other on.

The young guns gather for a pre event briefing

With sun, smiles and big tricks this was truly an Aussie style Xmas Freestyle event. The action took place in two holes Skippys and Wrinklys. Judged by some of the worlds top athletes the scores were calculated using the Wave Monkey scoring system. The same system used in Canada this summer at the ICF World Championship event. This was the Wave Monkeys debut in Australia and it did not disappoint. Thank you Andrew Kaar and Dave Hajoglou 'Hojo' for making this happen. Another new addition was the official countdown clock. Sue Robb worked hard to get this impressive system from Canoe Polo revolutionising the Australian Freestyle event.

The Judges getting ready

The Wave Monkey in Australia!!!

I had an awesome time throwing down loads of tricks. What was most impressive though was the young kids. Jez has been running a youth development programme for the last few years and as a result the standard of young paddlers has grown massively. This weekend really showcased that with young paddlers aged 12+ throwing some of the biggest moves and tricks including entry moves, cartwheels, huge air loops, space godzilla's and splits.

Liam nails a big entry move

Jack Clean Cartwheels his way into first

Luke setting himself up for a trick

Christian sets up to go big

Georgia throws a massive loop

Jack shows of with some huge pop

In the end it was James Rowlinson, myself , Jack Newland, Georgia Clarke, Christian Hliounakis, Eileen Callaghan, Vix Crawford, Peter Newland and Sue Robb who took home the wins in their respective classes.

Junior Womens 1st Place Georgia

Junior Mens Champ Jack

Junior Wrinkleys Champ Christian

Thank you to everyone involved in organising the event and everyone who took part for making this such an awesome day.

This years Australian Xmas Freestyle event was kindly sponsored and supported by Mountain Khakis and the Australian Freestyle Kayak Committee.

Mountain Khakis Gear up for grabs

Its Xmas :)

With the temperatures a mere 36 degrees its hard to believe it already only just over a week to Xmas

Thank you Vix Crawford & Peter Newland for capturing the action in these awesome shots.